KANSAS CITY (B)--The Beef Promotion Operating Committee has recommended the largest budget amendment ever for demand-building programs. The proposal was made in a meeting last week. The $6,642,000 fiscal 2001 budget amendment will be used to support checkoff-funded ($1 per head) beef promotion, research, consumer information and foreign marketing efforts.

According to a committee release Dec. 12, the funds resulted from three sources: the amount by which fiscal year 2000 record checkoff revenue exceeded projections; the amount by which the Beef Board's administrative expenses came in under budget; and a number of Beef Board projects that were completed for less than the amounts approved.

"The amendment, and the plan for fiscal 2001, is focused on helping the industry continue to build beef demand," said Beef Board Chairman Les McNeill, who serves as chairman of the operating committee. McNeill, a cattle feeder from Panhandle, Texas, added, "Beef demand for the third quarter of 2000 was up about 6% when compared with the third quarter of 1999. And for the first time ever, consumer expenditures for beef in 2000 are predicted to exceed $53 billion, an increase of $3 billion from 1999. After nearly two decades of decline, demand has been on a upswing for nearly two years."

The recommended budget amendment includes funding for promotion, research, consumer information and foreign marketing.

"The budget amendment includes funds for additional beef safety and nutrition research," McNeill said. "Research is a long-term commitment of checkoff dollars to assure consumer confidence in beef. It's important through research to develop the science to support the nutritional benefits of beef and the science to enhance beef's safety and eating quality."

In other action, the operating committee approved an authorization request for $185,000 from the U.S. Meat Export Federation for additional beef promotion efforts in the Japanese market. Japan is the largest market for U.S. beef.

It also approved a $70,000 authorization request from the American National CattleWomen to support the National Beef Ambassador Program. This program involves training young spokesmen to deliver messages about beef and the industry to consumer audiences.

The operating committee was created by the Beef Promotion and Research Act to bring state and national beef checkoff dollars together into a national program. Ten of its members are elected by and represent the Cattlemen's Beef Board, while its 10 other members are selected by state beef councils to represent them. The Operating Committee approves checkoff program plans and contractors.

Programs authorized by the operating committee must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before work can be done. Contractors with the Cattlemen's Beef Board work on a cost recovery basis; in other words, they are reimbursed after work is done and the out-of-pocket expenses are incurred and are not allowed to make a profit from the work they do.

The national beef checkoff is administered by the Beef Board, a 110-member board appointed by the secretary of agriculture to oversee the collection of the checkoff, certify state beef councils, implement the provisions of the federal order establishing the checkoff and evaluate the effectiveness of checkoff programs. Funds are spent in the areas of promotion, research and information to increase demand for beef and veal.

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