FRANKLIN, Tenn.- Tennessee cattle producers voted to continue a State Beef Promotion Program should the existing national Beef Check-off program be discontinued.

Vote counters said 79 percent of producers voting agreed to continue a $1 per head State Beef Promotion Program that would uphold efforts of independent producers to collectively promote beef. The state program would closely reflect the current check-off program and does include a refund provision.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture officials met at Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville to tabulate the results. The final ballot count showed 1,441 to 379 in favor of the state supported plan.

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association President Dave Fugate said the outcome of the referendum was a move in the right direction. “We are pleased with the outcome of the vote,” said Fugate. “Tennessee cattle producers are determined to protect their industry.”

Tennessee’s promotion plan would only be activated if the national plan, known as the “beef check-off,” is eliminated. Association Executive Vice-President Luke West said he felt comforted knowing that the interests of Tennessee cattle producers would be protected. “It is encouraging that we now have a contingency plan to continue the excellent work of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council,” West said.

“We thank the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the University of Tennessee Extension Service for conducting the referendum.”

West indicated that different organizations worked with one another to raise support for the state check-off. “The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association and the Tennessee Farm Bureau worked together to promote a ‘yes’ vote.”

Final vote results showed the strong support in East, Middle, and West Tennessee. Several counties in Tennessee had only ‘yes’ votes.

While cattle producers concentrate on efficiencies on the farm and caring for their cattle, the Beef Checkoff Program builds demand for beef throughout the state with marketing strategies that are integrated and consumer-focused. Enjoyment and nutrition have been identified as important motives for beef purchases.

The Beef Checkoff Program uses these as the center for promotion programs created to meet the needs of consumers at foodservice and retail with the identification of ‘beef value cuts’ and ‘new heat and serve’ beef products. The Checkoff program also provides health professionals and teachers with science-based nutrition information and educational kits for use with clients and students that relay the valuable and nourishing role beef plays in a healthy diet.

“Tennessee’s farmers produce more high quality food than ever before,” said a spokesman for the Tennessee Beef Industry Council. “They have achieved this by being responsible, progressive, and resourceful. “The Beef Checkoff Program is an excellent example of that resourcefulness. It is a partnership of people, with common interests, working together to achieve marketing strategies which would be unattainable alone.”

For more information about the Beef Checkoff Program contact the Tennessee Beef Industry Council at 615-790-3947.

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