Cattle referendum open to Surry farmers

First Posted: 10/2/2009

DOBSON Surry County cattle farmers can vote in a statewide referendum scheduled Tuesday, according to an announcement from the North Carolina Cattlemens Association (NCCA).
All cattle owners who are at least 18 years of age as of Oct. 6, will be eligible to participate in the state Cattle Industry Assessment Referendum. Local farmers can cast ballots at the Cooperative Extension Service office in Dobson.
Everett Johnson, association president, said the referendum is aimed at seeking producers permission to assess all cattle sold and marketed in North Carolina $1 per head for the purposes of advancing their industry in the state.
At the annual meeting of the NCCA, held during the 58th-annual state cattlemens conference, the organizations board of directors voted to request permission from the Board of Agriculture in Raleigh to conduct the referendum.
Permission was granted by the board and arrangements were made with the Cooperative Extension Service to facilitate the voting, with its offices in each county serving as the polling places.
If the referendum is successful, the money collected will be used to fund five areas: youth programs, cattle research, education, promotion of North Carolina cattle and beef and issues management. The states dairy industry also will benefit from the funds collected, as a portion of the income will be allocated to the same areas within the dairy sector.
The referendum would reinstate an original state assessment program established in 1957. The national beef checkoff assessment of $1 per head will still be collected and used according to the guidelines set forth in federal law.
The national beef checkoff does a tremendous job of promoting beef and the beef industry, returning $5.50 per dollar invested, Johnson said. However, these funds cannot be used for many of the production and regulatory-oriented issues facing the industry today.
The North Carolina Cattle Industry Assessment Referendum would allow producers to provide funds that would be controlled totally by the beef and dairy producers to promote our product, our youth, our industry and to provide research and advocacy to protect their way of life.
Said Bryan Blinson, executive director of the North Carolina Cattlemens Association, The assessment will be for a period of three years, with a recurring referendum if requested.
He added that producers will be eligible for a full refund of their North Carolina assessment by request within 30 days of the sale of an animal with proof of sale. This is a provision that is not available in the national program due to federal law, Blinson said.
All eligible voters must cast ballots in their home county. Absentee ballots may be obtained by contacting the state Cooperative Extension Service or by requesting them from the North Carolina Cattlemens Association.
Additional details on voting procedures or funding information are available from the county extension offices, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services or the North Carolina Cattlemens Association.

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