It's Time To Kill the Mandatory Beef Tax That Underwrites "Beef, It's What's for Dinner"

The beef checkoff problem raises prices without benefiting ranchers


Baylen Linnekin, Reason



A group of farmers and ranchers has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reform or end the agency's moronic beef "checkoff" program, which raises the price everyone pays for beef so that we may be subjected to those "Beef, It's What's for Dinner" ads, the Associated Press reported last month. The petition, which was due to the USDA this week, asks the agency to put the checkoff to a vote of the producers subject to the program.


The petition was organized by the group R-CALF, which represents the nation's independent cattle producers. R-CALF complains that most of the funds from the checkoff program find their way to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), which represents many of the nation's largest beef producers.


"Today, when you buy a Big Mac or a T-bone, a portion of the cost is a tax on beef, the proceeds from which the government hands over to a private trade group called the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA)," Washington Monthly reported in 2014. "The NCBA in turn uses this public money to buy ads encouraging you to eat more beef."


R-CALF's petition, which received more than 19,000 signatures, explains why the 35-year-old checkoff program doesn't work for its members, including that those who administer the program are unaccountable, that the program has suffered from corruption, and that the program stifles farmers' and ranchers' ability to engage in "robust competition, liberty, and freedom to operate as they see fit."


As I explain in my 2016 book Biting the Hands that Feed Us, USDA "checkoff" programs exist for not just beef, but also pork ("Pork. The other white meat."), dairy (milk mustache), and other foods.


While the USDA claims the antiquated, mandatory collectivist marketing approach empowers businesses...


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