New campaign aims to keep beef on the table

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been years since we’ve seen the old “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” ads on television.

What you might not know is that campaign was funded by a one dollar per cattle fee ranchers pay. It is called a ‘check-off.’

That money doesn’t go as far is it did back in the 1980s and 90s, but with beef prices going up, ranchers in Texas are considering an additional dollar check-off to fund a new campaign.

Jimmy Schwertner is a third generation cattle rancher. He says the biggest difference in raising cattle these days is they let the cattle roam more.

“If the animal is not stressed it will gain faster,” he said, “and be cheaper to put on that pound of beef.”

Schwertner also says beef isn’t selling like it used to either. He thinks adding a dollar to each head of cattle to help promote the industry is a great idea with little impact on the consumer.

“650, 700 pounds of carcass white meat that comes to the table, and divide that dollar into 700 pounds of meat, I mean that’s miniscule,” he said.

Texas ranchers will vote this week on whether to pay a dollar more every time the buy a head of cattle. If approved, the funds will go towards promoting Texas beef worldwide.

Some groups say the dollar is basically an extra tax. But Bryan Black of the Texas Department of Agriculture says the effort was driven by ranchers themselves.

“This is not the government telling them what to do, this is not associations telling them what to do,” Black said. “This is an opportunity for them to vote on this program.”

“This is a good investment,” Schwertner said, “because it’s an investment in advertising.”

The money raised will be managed by the Beef Promotion and Research Council of Texas. If approved the collection of funds would begin Oct. 1.

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