We’ve seen lots of shenanigans this spring as big established interests nibble away at the small producers threatening the status quo. Oklahoma, for instance, just placed a tax on homeowners who put up solar panels. Elected officials supported the utility company rationale that this surcharge was necessary to hook up the independent energy producers; but that thinking ignores the fact that local rooftop solar panels contribute to the power supply and make it more resilient.
Now shift your attention to Texas, where the beef industry has apparently persuaded officials to take a similar swipe at ranchers.
Officials are proposing to double the $1 per head beef tax that ranchers already pay to the federal government for what’s known as the “check off” program. This $1 multiplied across each cow raised $11 million from Texas farmers and ranchers last year, according to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
So now the state of Texas wants its own dollar per head.
And while the tax does not seem like a lot for each rancher, it adds up, and more importantly, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) believes its not a good use of ranchers’ money:
“The money goes into the pockets of Big Beef industry groups, who use it to pay for ads like “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner.” Theoretically, that’s supposed to improve farmers’ sales. But it doesn’t.
“The beef they’re advertising is what’s sold in the grocery stores, which can come from anywhere — and often comes from other countries, such as Brazil and Mexico. And even as hundreds of millions have been spent on these ads, per capita consumption of beef has decreased.
It’s companies like Tyson and Cargill and the grocery store chains who really benefit from the checkoff, while farmers and ranchers are forced to pay the bill. Now, they want to add a state level checkoff and double that tax.”
But smaller or family-owned producers who don’t think this approach benefits them, can register their “no” vote against the Texas tax by voting on it. All cattle owners are eligible to fill out a ballot at their nearest Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offices.
Cattle owners must vote, however between June 2-6, 2014. Anyone who owned cattle, even one cow or steer, in the last year can vote; that includes 4-H’ers who just have to have their parents sign too if they’re under 16.
Ballots also may be mailed in, between May 19 – June 2.
It’s no wonder the FARFA has put out an alert on this development, voting occurs during a narrow window.
For more info see the Alliance’s website.