By Joey McWilliams
BRYAN COUNTY – Cattle producers who buy and sell in Oklahoma could be looking at giving up an additional dollar per head sold in the near future.
A vote has been set for Wednesday, Nov. 1, to approve a secondary beef checkoff program. This would mean the collection of an additional dollar on cattle sold in the state.
The checkoff would be a state-based addition to the current U.S. Beef Checkoff. The current U.S. program requires that 50 cents of every dollar collected be sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.
There is a wide berth allowing for many to vote on the issue.
Any beef producer, regardless of age, who would be required to pay the assessment is eligible to vote in the referendum.
Additionally, living in Oklahoma is not a requirement. Any beef producer, who would be required under the referendum to pay the state assessment, is eligible to vote. Out-of-state producers can vote at any Oklahoma County Extension office on the day of the vote or by requesting a ballot by mail.
Weston Givens, a rancher from Arnett, was quoted in a release from the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association as being for the checkoff as the entire $1 would stay in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma beef producers decide where and how to invest those Checkoff dollars,” Givens said.
However, Nan Swift, writing for the National Taxpayers Union, posted on that site calling the checkoff a tax.
“(It is) a mandatory entry-fee to participate in the marketplace and would increase costs to consumers, reduce producer profits, and make it harder for both independent and young cattlemen and women to gain a foothold in the industry,” Swift said.
Jeff Hazaleus is the owner/operator of the Durant Stockyards and said he wants the people to get out and make their voices heard.
“I want the producers to decide what they want,” Hazaleus said. “I’m just thankful that they get the opportunity to voice their opinion, whatever that opinion may be.
“People are for it and people are against it. I just want everybody to go vote. Use your right to go vote and let the Oklahoma Beef Council know how you feel about it.”
Voting in person in Bryan County will take place at the OSU Extension Office at 1901 S. Ninth Ave. in Durant.
Mail-in ballots must be requested between Oct. 2-20, 2017, by calling (405) 235-4391. Completed mail-in ballots must be returned directly to the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff Ballot Committee and postmarked by Oct. 27, 2017.