The Illinois Beef Association (IBA) announced today that the recently held statewide referendum to restart the Illinois Beef Checkoff passed with an 88 percent majority vote. 1,057 ballots were cast with 934 for and 123 against. The vote totals were certified this week by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
“We’re proud to participate in this process whereby cattle producers in Illinois are taking progressive steps to promote the beef industry in Illinois,” said Philip Nelson, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
“We are very pleased with the results of the referendum. Restarting our voluntary state checkoff has been a priority mission for the beef association over the last year and we’ve been encouraged at each step in the process by the support of cattle owners around the state and our VOTE YES coalition,” said IBA Executive Vice President Reid Blossom.
The referendum spanned 12 days from Feb. 16-27 with cattle owners across the state casting ballots by mail, in person at local FSA offices, and in person at the 2015 Illinois Beef Expo. Clear majorities for support were evident in each venue with mail in ballots showing a 68 percent yes vote, FSA office polling showing 73 percent in favor, and Illinois Beef Expo polling returning a 97 percent supportive vote.
“This is tremendous news for cattlemen in Illinois. We are very grateful for all the support this effort saw from cattlemen statewide. Now, the real work begins and that’s putting into effect programs that will benefit all beef producers in Illinois by promoting our product and our industry,” said Alan Adams, a cow-calf producer and cattle feeder from Sandwich, who serves as IBA president.
The Illinois Beef Checkoff was originally created by state statute in 1983, three years before the start of the national $1 beef checkoff. When the national program started, Illinois’ state checkoff was shelved and required a full petition and referendum process to be reinstated. The favorable results from February’s referendum are not unique for beef checkoff votes in Illinois; in 1988 cattlemen in the state voted 83 percent in favor to support the national beef checkoff program in a referendum that made that program permanent.
The Illinois Beef Checkoff is different from the national checkoff in three distinct ways: the state checkoff is voluntary, all money collected stays in Illinois, and the state checkoff has more flexibility; meaning money can be spent additionally on youth and producer profitability or specifically promoting Illinois-raised beef. The program will be administered by the 14 cattle producers serving on the IBA Board of Governors’ Checkoff Division. The assessment of 50 cents per head is collected each time an animal is sold in addition to the national checkoff and any producer can receive a refund of their state checkoff. Collections of the Illinois Beef Checkoff are set to begin July 1, 2015. For more information, contact the IBA at 217-787-4280.