DENVER - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has finalized an amendment to the Beef Promotion and Research Rules and Regulations that will allow cattle producers to prepay beef checkoff assessments in their state of residence before sending cattle across state lines, the Oregon Beef Council reported.

Notice of the amendment was printed in the Oct. 2 Federal Register and offers a voluntary option for producers who retain ownership of cattle that are shipped to another state - for feeding, grazing or the like - for more than 30 days before being sold. The purpose of the rule change is to offer producers the option of directing the state share of their checkoff assessments to the Qualified State Beef Council in their home state rather than in the state to which they send their cattle for eventual sale.

Previous rules and regulations already returned checkoff assessments to the state of producers' residence if their cattle remained in another state for less than 30 days before sale, but this new rule allows them to extend that retained ownership indefinitely if they choose - as long as they remit prepayment of their $1-per-head checkoff assessments before or at the time of transport of their cattle to another state.

The amendment maps out a specific process and paper trail for producers to follow if they choose to trigger the prepayment option; it requires use of new USDA-approved forms that are available from Qualified State beef councils. The amendment provides for a verification process to ensure compliance both with payment of all checkoff assessments and application of those assessments to the appropriate state beef council or to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board.

The USDA received written statements from 44 people or organizations during the 60-day comment period regarding the rule change and incorporated many suggestions from those comments into the amendment. Copies of the final rule are available from the USDA Marketing Programs Branch, Livestock and Seed Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, STOP 0251, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-0251; (202) 720-1115.

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