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They Like It

Written by Dennis Sun

This is good news for cattle producers. A random survey by the independent firm Aspen Media and Market Research of 601 beef and dairy producers nationwide on their opinions of the beef checkoff was conducted in mid- to late June of this year, and results were very positive.

The 515 beef producers and 86 dairy producers were stratified based on the 2012 Agricultural Census by state, type of operation and age. Data were weighted by region to be proportionate to the number of U.S. beef and dairy operations in that region. From this, the adjusted sample of 601 producers was surveyed.

Producers sampled continue to have very favorable attitudes toward the beef checkoff program and have been very consistent in their support over time. Currently, three out of four approve of the program. In the last five years, support has ranged between 73 and 78 percent. Even going back 10 years, a large majority have approved of the program, with the support levels in the low to mid 70 percent range in eight of those years.

The only negative part that came back was that 85 percent said they found the facts about checkoff surveys only while looking for other information about their industry over the years. The survey found out that only five percent of producers actively seek information about their checkoff. To me, that means we all have to tell our story better as producers, something we have always neglected to do.

The survey showed 81 percent of producers say the beef checkoff has helped to contribute to a positive trend in beef demand, and 71 percent of producers say the beef checkoff contributes to the profitability of their operations. At the same time, 71 percent said the checkoff represents their interests, and 68 percent of producers believe the checkoff is well managed. Those are positive numbers about the checkoff, and it reflects well on those involved with the checkoff. They are doing a good job.

The research also showed that the proportion of producers who disapprove of the checkoff continues to be low, a trend in recent years. Just 10 percent disapprove of the checkoff, which is the lowest it has ever been since polling started 28 years ago. There has always been a core group of producers who dislike the program, but disapproval is now at the low end of the historical range of 10 to 27 percent.

You know, it is all right not to like the checkoff as it is a personal opinion, but just like approving the checkoff, you need to have the facts and not put spin on it. It works both ways. Those who thought they were well informed approved the checkoff more than those who said they were not informed.

The checkoff approval levels were also consistent by age. No differences emerged when comparing younger producers to older ones. But when asked about next year’s cattle sales, the younger producers said they were going to be better than this past year, and the older producers thought that sales would be headed in a downward direction.

Generally, producers give positive marks to checkoff management. Of those surveyed, 69 percent feel the program is headed in the right direction, and 68 percent trust it is being managed well. Only 13 percent disagree with checkoff management.

I agree with those who feel positive about the checkoff, and I have good faith in those who manage it, both state-wide and nationally.