Alan Adams (right) of Sandwich, Ill., was re-elected as president and Mike Martz, DeKalb, as vice president of the Illinois Beef Association during the group’s annual meeting at the 2014 Summer Conference. IBA members approved two significant proposals from the group’s board of directors. A strategic plan that focuses on ways to accomplish the missions of both the policy and checkoff divisions was passed. The cattlemen also voted to begin the process to reactivate the 50-cent state beef checkoff.
Alan Adams (right) of Sandwich, Ill., was re-elected as president and Mike Martz, DeKalb, as vice president of the Illinois Beef Association during the group’s annual meeting at the 2014 Summer Conference. IBA members approved two significant proposals from the group’s board of directors. A strategic plan that focuses on ways to accomplish the missions of both the policy and checkoff divisions was passed. The cattlemen also voted to begin the process to reactivate the 50-cent state beef checkoff.
BETTENDORF, Iowa — Illinois Beef Association members approved a strategic plan for the group that focuses on three areas.

“The IBA board of directors has worked on developing this plan since the beginning of the year,” explained Reid Blossom, IBA executive vice president. “This document is the big-picture outline of how one organization structures itself and functions to address the mission statements of both the policy and the checkoff divisions.”

Details of the IBA strategic plan were discussed during the annual meeting of the group held at the 2014 Summer Conference.

The mission of the IBA policy division is “to serve our members and promote the viability of the beef industry in Illinois.”

For the checkoff division, the policy is “to build demand for beef through education, communication and marketing.”

The three strategic areas of the plan are: internal structure and operations, engaging industry stakeholders and representing the Illinois beef industry.

“For the first strategic area, we need to capitalize on the resource of our volunteer leaders around the state and keep them informed,” Blossom said. “We will help them be active leaders at the state and national level on programs that affect other cattlemen.”

Within the engaging industry stakeholders area, the plan calls for a three-year goal of a 5 percent annual membership growth to total 2,200 members by 2017.

“This goal also includes doing a better job of delivering programs to benefit IBA members,” Blossom said.

And for the third area, IBA plans to engage more often with other agricultural groups in the state to remain the voice of the industry.

“The goal is for IBA to be the go-to source of information regarding all aspects of the beef industry in our state,” Blossom said. “We plan to communicate with beef producers, non beef producers and the media.”

IBA members re-elected Alan Adams of Sandwich to serve as president for the upcoming year. He will be assisted by Mike Martz of DeKalb as the vice president.

Get Involved

The IBA members have made a lot of improvements in regard to making contacts with policy makers, Adams noted.

“We need to be thinking about some of the state agencies we need to work with like the Illinois EPA,” he said.

Another important agency is the Natural Resources Conservation Service, led by Ivan Dozier, the state conservationist.

“Ivan told us a lot of government money is being turned back in and that money could be going into member’s pockets,” Adams said. “We need to find ways to make sure our members get those benefits.”

Several members were elected to open director positions for the Checkoff Division: District 1 — Don Brown, Davis; District 2 — Liz Novotny, Princeton; District 3 — Jim Sundberg, Mendota; District 5 — Sara Prescott, Springfield; and District 6 — Steve Carruthers, Bingham.

For the Policy Division, members elected to serve as directors are: District 1 — Joe Winter, Elizabeth; District 3 — Sandra Robertson, DeKalb; District 4 — Dennis Huber, Plainville; and District 5 — Bill Graff, Middletown.

With a unanimous vote, members decided to pursue the reactivation of the voluntary Illinois 50-cent beef checkoff. The Illinois checkoff is part of the state statute that was enacted on Aug. 18, 1983, as the Illinois Beef Market Development Act.

The proposal for the Illinois checkoff is in addition to the national $1 checkoff that was established by the 1985 farm bill and became mandatory in 1988 with 79 percent of the cattlemen voters across the nation approving program.

Herd Shrinks

“The No. 1 challenge is pretty clear, the beef herd in our state has shrunk,” Blossom said. “In 1985, we collected $690,000, and in 2013, the checkoff division collected $309,000.

In addition, he noted, the buying power of the national checkoff program has decreased dramatically.

“What was once a $1-investment that gave a $1 return has decreased 56 percent to a 44-cent return on the $1 investment,” he explained.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Martz agreed. “None of us in this room are living on the same budget as in 1986.”

As a member of the executive board, Martz said, the IBA staff has brought new ideas to each meeting, but there are not always funds for the projects.

“There are a ton of people in Chicago that we’re not reaching,” he said. “And there are a lot of people in Peoria and St. Louis, so we need more funds if we’re going to grow this industry in Illinois.”

An Illinois checkoff program has the ability to go beyond the national checkoff, Blossom said.

“The Illinois beef checkoff is voluntary, and the money collected in Illinois stays in Illinois,” he added. “It is also flexible, so it can be used for rural youth educational programs, educational programs for producers and to promote Illinois specific beef.”

According to the act, producer can request a refund of the state checkoff within 30 days of the sale. A form to request this refund would be made available on the IBA’s website.

Other States

Several states already have established state beef checkoff programs, including Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Washington, Georgia and Louisiana.

“Ohio passed a statewide referendum in March with a yes vote of 72 percent of the cattle owners,” Blossom said.

In order for a referendum to be held to reactivate the state checkoff program, 100 cattle owners in each of the seven districts across the state must sign a petition calling for the referendum. All of these 700 cattle producers must have owned or sold cattle in the previous calendar year or presently own cattle.

Once the 700 signatures are collected, they will be presented to the Illinois Department of Agriculture for certification to request a referendum.

“A lot of producers benefit from programs, and unless we talk to them and ask them to support this program, it will never come to be,” Blossom said.

The IBA president stressed the importance of increasing the available funds for new programs.

“Checkoff directors have things in front of them today that they never have before,” Adams said. “We’ve just scratched the surface — there’s plenty more to do.”