My family says ‘Yes’ to the Texas Beef Checkoff

By Jim Sartwelle

If you and your family own cattle in Texas, I ask you to strongly consider voting YES for the future of the Texas beef industry by going to any county Extension office in Texas THIS WEEK and voting YES.

The past five-plus years have been tough on all our operations. Drought, high feed costs, high diesel and gasoline, and increased input costs have sucked a lot of the fun we’d otherwise be having from $1.75+ calves. With my sons Brock and JD being just 10 and 5 years old right now, it’s easy for Beth and I to question whether there will be much of a beef industry left for them to participate in as adults. I know the odds are a lot better if we take an active role in building a future. I’d like for us to continue to develop foreign markets, unearth new products from our carcasses, and continue to defend those of us who do it right from the animal rights activists and those who would take away antibiotics and other scientifically-accepted production practices. The time for us to act is now.

One thing I can do, as a relatively small beef producer, is to vote YES in this week’s Texas Beef Checkoff Referendum.  We’ll gladly trade another $1 per head at the time of sale to strengthen the cow business through the efforts of the Texas Beef Council. That first $1 was approved nearly three decades ago. Inflation, reduced cattle numbers, and the reduced number of times cattle change hands have reduced the effectiveness of what we can collectively do to promote beef. We can sit back and hope things stay good forever, or we can be proactive and put our money where our hopes are.

Let’s do the things we can do to make sure this industry grows numbers and remains profitable.

Beth, JD and I are voting YES.  We hope you will join us.

P.S.  If you need more information, you can go to and get as much as you can handle—including who is eligible to vote, voting locations, and the hours each Extension office is open.

Jim Sartwelle is director of Public Policy with Texas Farm Bureau. He and his father operate Sartwelle Brahman Ranch, a family-owned seedstock and commercial cow-calf operation founded in 1914.

One Response to “My family says ‘Yes’ to the Texas Beef Checkoff”

  1. Regrettably I am not in the beef business, therefore I can’t vote, however I witnessed what the corn and wheat checkoffs did for poor prices and export trade for our grain over the last thirty years. Absolutely NOTHING!

    Having been privy to the antics of a few of the top dogs who took advantage of their fellow farmer’s contributions to wheel and deal their way to and from Washington DC multiple times per year with no positive results whatsoever, I eventually formed the opinion that checkoffs are nothing but folly to the average contributor.

    Most programs of this type start off with great expectations and the purest of intentions – then gradually morph into something else entirely. The idea that producers should ante up even more at a time that the overall industry is suffering, is ludicrous. Shouldn’t the folks who benefit from checkoff dollars tighten their belts along with producers during hard times?

    A checkoff won’t change a drought, high feed, fuel prices, or any category of increased input costs, so those arguments are an insult to our intelligence.

    When producers provide grant money to enthusiastic researchers who come up with new products like “pink slime”, we find ourselves shot in the foot from a PR standpoint. That great idea backfired on producers, so the idea of gleaning the maximum from each carcass should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Subsidizing meat packers to export specialty cuts that Americans won’t eat is an odd investment. Why should the rancher/cattle feeder subsidize Cargill, a multinational corporation that should be able to afford their own market research and development initiatives abroad.

    The one excellent reason to vote for a checkoff, if the focus can be kept on a very narrow goal, is hiring a fabulous top of the line PR specialist to design and execute a continual campaign to undermine “animal rights” activist whose real goal is to continually foster nagging doubt as to the safety of beef in the minds of consumers, slowly killing the American consumer’s desire to invest in their favorite protein, wholesome, nutritious, delicious BEEF.

    The PR WAR to counter the anti-meat movement in all its incarnations is real and quite a serious undertaking.

    Look at what has happened to Monsanto who failed to seriously counter the anti-GMO campaign in a timely manner? One by one foreign purchasers of grains are asking for non-GMO products. Look at the recent changes the hog production industry has been forced into. How many piglets will sows lay on due to larger crates demanded by major purchasers of the product? Have you heard about the latest demands on the size of laying cages for hens in CA?

    All over the web I am running across self proclaimed food purist laying the groundwork to thoroughly demonize CAFOs. Ignoring their foolish tripe is dangerous. I have also seen producer organizations beginning to adopt the language of progressive Leftist anti-meat campaigners. Is it Stockholm Syndrome, or do some of our leading young producers who find themselves with a state or national platform actually believe that “sustainability” can ever lead to industry growth? If so they need a serious education in the tenets of Capitalism and training in resistance to indoctrination. NEVER, EVER adopt the “language” of your adversary!

    In fact, some of those checkoff funds might be well-spent educating producer-elected representatives with a little orientation course, before they are allowed to speak publicly on behalf of the BEEF industry.

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