Agriculture commissioner sets statewide beef referendum
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 8:02 pm
Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson has authorized a statewide referendum for cattle producers to consider an increase in the assessment to fund the in-state promotion of beef. The action is in response to a request from the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, the state’s largest cattle organization.
“Cattle and calves are our top agricultural commodity and account for more than $500 million annually in farm income,” Johnson said. “In these times of changing markets and consumer attitudes, I think it’s important that cattle producers take time to reassess how their product is marketed and how to pay for it.”
Under state law governing the Tennessee beef promotion board, the commissioner of agriculture has authority to call a referendum within 60 days of receiving a request from a qualified producer organization.
Cattle producers will be able to vote Dec. 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Dec. 8 during normal business hours at the University of Tennessee Extension office of their residence.
To vote in the referendum, producers must:
• Be a resident of Tennessee
• Produce or market beef or dairy cattle
• Be at least 18 years old
• Sign a legal affidavit attesting to eligibility
Cattle producers will vote on an increase of 50 cents in the assessment charged per head of cattle sold to support in-state promotion and advertising of beef. The measure requires a majority vote. Currently, cattle producers pay $1 per head to fund research, education, promotions and advertising to help build consumer demand for beef products nationally. The national beef program was authorized by a vote of cattle producers and implemented in 1985.
Tennessee ranks as one of the top beef producing states in the nation with nearly 2 million head of cattle.
According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, cattle and calves generated $545 million in Tennessee farm cash receipts in 2010.
There are approximately 47,000 cattle producers in the state.
Published in The Messenger 10.18.11