OMAHA (DTN) -- A vote to increase the Oklahoma beef checkoff by $1 has failed with 2,506 opposing the increase and 1,998 backing the measure.
The debate leading up to the vote was an acrimonious affair among various groups. The outcome led to praise by RCALF-USA and the Organization of Competitive Markets, while leaders in the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association complained about out-of-state activism working to defeat the referendum.
"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."
Bill Bullard, CEO for R-CALF USA, said his group was proud to stand with Oklahoma members to defeat the measure. "It is good to know that in America, if you stand up for what is right, you can still win."
Oklahoma farmer and OCM board member Paul Muegge added, "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."
OCM and R-CALF USA had asked USDA to launch an investigation into the checkoff election and called for an audit of the Oklahoma Beef Council following the theft of $2.6 million by a former employee who pled guilty to fraud charges.
The $1 federal checkoff sends 50 cents to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board while 50 cents goes to state beef councils. Fifteen states also have a state-operated $1 checkoff: Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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