The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) announced Thursday, Nov. 9 that the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff referendum vote failed on a vote of 2,506 (against) to 1,998 (for). Voting was conducted by early ballot in October and in-person voting Nov. 1 at county Extension offices. All ballots were received, tabulated, verified and sampled by a third-party auditor and delivered directly to Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese. Eligible voters included all Oklahoma beef producers and those who would be required to pay the one-dollar assessment.
Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Beef Association (OCA) officers made the following statements after the vote tally was announced:
“As a rancher, I face challenges every day,” said Weston Givens, rancher and OCA president. “Unfortunately, those daily challenges are nothing compared to the growing challenges that our industry faces such as aggressive anti-meat activist groups trying to remove beef from the menu and misleading claims about food safety and animal care. It is disheartening that the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff was defeated, but I’m still proud of the strong collaborative effort of the Vote Yes Coalition and our grassroots campaign.”
“This is an unfortunate loss for the beef industry here in Oklahoma,” said Michael Kelsey, OCA executive vice president. “Investing in a state-level beef checkoff would have greatly increased the opportunities to market, promote and educate consumers about beef and beef producers. We ran a good campaign that worked hard to reach out and educate beef producers, but ultimately we were defeated today by the same out-of-state activists that defeated State Question 777 last fall.”