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Published January 20, 2014, 09:49 AM

New deadline in beef checkoff vote

Minnesota cattle producers have until March 18 to mail in their ballot in the state beef checkoff referendum.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Minnesota cattle producers have until March 18 to mail in their ballot in the state beef checkoff referendum.

Only producers who received a ballot by Jan. 17 are eligible to vote.

Originally, producers were to vote in February on whether to increase the checkoff. But the Minnesota Department of Agriculture decided to delay the vote to give cattle producers more time to learn about the proposal.

Results of the election are expected to be announced in early April.

Currently, in an agreement that dates to 1985, the Minnesota Beef Council collects $1 for every head sold. Of the money collected, half is spent nationally and half remains in Minnesota.

The proposed checkoff, if approved, would increase the amount to $2 per head, raising an additional $500,000 to $750,000 annually to promote beef raised in the state. The additional money would remain in Minnesota.

Collection of the additional $1 per head would begin July 1, if the referendum passes.

Supporters of the proposal say the additional money would be spent to improve beef’s image and to tell its story. Supporters also note that it’s been nearly three decades since the original checkoff was approved, and that inflation has cut into what can be done with $1 per head.

The checkoff would be voluntary. Producers could request a refund through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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