By Wayne William Cipriano
Did you hear about the Beef Checkoff? Not the one we already have that takes a dollar for every head of cattle we sell, but the new one from the state of Missouri that wants to take an additional dollar?
Yes, I know it is only a second dollar, and two bucks aren’t such a big deal, right? Well, if I see two dollar bills blowing in the wind across a store parking lot, I will grab ‘em. I will even pick up a single dollar bill, but I guess that is just me thinking a dollar is still important.
I suppose if I thought the existing Beef Checkoff of one dollar was doing some good, I might support a second dollar – get twice the utility? But, if you think beef needs any more support to be desired by shoppers, just look at the prices being charged and the looks on the faces of those shoppers. They look at, even pick up packages of beef, put them down and move over to the pork or chicken sections. I don’t know what they use the $1 for now or the other $1 they are asking for, but is is not necessary to remind people how good beef is. Ask anyone, they already know. Will some public relations campaign offset the stratospheric cost of a steak? Maybe, maybe not.
I am a bit torqued at how this new checkoff is being initiated. If you got some of those pamphlets in the mail you might have noticed there was to be some sort of “election” to see if we cattle producers want to pay another dollar. I am pretty sure I could supply an answer and save the cost of an election but nobody asked me.
In order to vote in the “election” you had to come to the notice of the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) by sending in a request for a ballot (and you had a very short time to do that). Once MDA received your request a ballot was sent to you that you had to mark and return within, I believe, ten days or so, it was pretty quick.
Now, take a guess how many cattle farms there are in Missouri. I called the Missouri Beef Council and asked. They told me that according to their latest survey there are about 46,000 beef cattle operations in the state. MDA received 8,480 requests for ballots out of a potential pool of 46,000 operations. Startling, isn’t it? 8,480 requests from about 46,000 operations. Sort of tickles your suspicion for a while.
According to the MDA, they received 6,568 valid ballots of the 8,480 they sent out. I guess some of the ballots were not returned, arrived late or were incomplete. However, the ballots were not that complicated –– either put a check in the box next to Yes or in the box next to No. Heck, even I did not have any trouble with that.
Anyway, the ballots have been totaled. One box was checked 4,903 times or 74.6%, and the other box was checked 1,666 times, or 25.4%. Why don’t you guess how the voting came out before reading on.
It surprised me to learn that we escaped that extra dollar! I am still looking for one of the 1,666 Yes votes to explain to me why that extra dollar was needed. Don’t you wish we could vote on the existing $1 Beef Checkoff? I am pretty sure I know how that vote would turn out, too, but again nobody will ask me.
And, yes, all you math power tools are correct. The total of the Yes and No votes does add up to one more vote than the total of all the valid ballots. I think it’s the New Math.