The Fence Post: Oklahoma cattle producers say ‘no’ to state checkoff

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The Fence Post

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry announced the $1 refundable Oklahoma Beef Checkoff referendum failed with 2,506 no votes and 1,998 yes votes.

The proposed checkoff would have required that $1 be taken from cattle owners every time they sold cattle. The funds would remain in state to be administered by the Oklahoma Beef Council, which is made up of members appointed by: American Farmers and Ranchers, Oklahoma Dairy Producers Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma CattleWomen Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Livestock Marketing Association and the chairman of the Oklahoma Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Assocation led the charge to gain support for the checkoff, patterning much of their promotional material and the details of the proposed checkoff itself after the state checkoff recently approved in Texas.

Anyone who expected he or she would pay a state checkoff was allowed to vote — regardless of age or address, so children and out-of-state individuals were discovered to have voted. The OCA is proud of its “Vote Yes” campaign, despite the defeat.

“As a rancher, I face challenges every day,” said Weston Givens, rancher and president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. “Unfortunately, those daily challenges are nothing compared to the growing challenges that our industry faces such as: aggressive anti-meat activist groups trying to remove beef from the menu and misleading claims about food safety and animal care. It is disheartening that the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff was defeated, but I’m still proud of the strong collaborative effort of the Vote Yes Coalition and our grassroots campaign.”

R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets, led the campaign to stop the implementation of the checkoff.

Oklahoma farmer and OCM board member Paul Muegge said, “With my years of experience fighting corporate agriculture, I knew we had to stand up to OCA. They are nothing more than the modern day cattle barons trying to ride rough shod over family farmers and ranchers and using our government to do so.”

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