Checkoff Referendum Fails In Oklahoma

Drovers CattleNetwork, Greg Henderson November 9, 2017

Oklahoma’s state-wide secondary beef checkoff referendum was defeated 57% to 43%. Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese reported “yes” votes totaled 1,198 and “no” votes totaled 2,506.

“This is an unfortunate loss for the beef industry here in Oklahoma,” said Michael Kelsey, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president, in a statement. “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.” Question 777 was the Right to Farm Amendment.

Both the Organization for competitive Markets and R-Calf USA claimed victory, as the organizations campaigned against the secondary checkoff.

“We were proud to stand with our Oklahoma members to ensure justice was carried out during this election,” said Bill Bullard, CEO for R-CALF USA. “It is good to know that in America, if you stand up for what is right you can still win.”

The election outcome renders moot the filing that R-Calf and OCM made before Oklahoma’s Supreme Court. The two groups filed an application for original jurisdiction requesting the court enter a declaratory judgement and prohibit the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry from certifying the Oklahoma beef checkoff program referendum.

However, based on the court’s procedural rules, the Plaintiffs will have to dismiss their case now that they have won the election.

Brian Ted Jones, attorney for the Plaintiffs, said, “Unfortunately having to dismiss the case leaves serious constitutional questions about the statute and the process left unanswered.”