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North Carolina ranchers to vote Thursday on renewing $1 assessment per animal sold

Staff Writer

North Carolina ranchers will have the opportunity to vote Thursday on whether to continue paying $1 per animal sold to fund community agricultural education programs, farm research and other needs for area agriculture.

The Lincoln County Cooperative Extension office will serve as the local election center for those interested in casting a vote for or against the N.C. Cattle Industry Assessment Referendum.

“The dollars will continue to allow the funding of educational programs, youth programs, judging contests, leadership programs,” said Libby Yarber, an area agriculture extension agent for Lincoln County as she talked with the Times-News on Thursday.

“There’s a huge statewide beef industry tour trip for youth (that it funds), too. And some of it is political — it helps inform legislature groups on what’s going on in the beef industry; the funds are divvied up equally between those things.”

For those who aren’t entirely in favor of the mandate, a refund of the $1 will be given 60 days after the sale of the animal if they choose, Yarber noted.

Though the money is coming out of the pockets of some local residents per animal, those in favor of the policy argue that the funding will be coming full circle to go back into programs that boost the cattle industry, and aren’t just dollars paid away in a tax never to be seen again.

Conservation Farm Family of the Year winner for 2012 Robert Kalmbacher has been raising and selling cattle in North Carolina for the last seven years — many of which he has taken part in voting on the matter.

Coming from a research-based background, working for the University of Florida’s Range Cattle Research and Education Center until his retirement in 2005, Kalmbacher stresses the importance of research and the need for funding to make it possible.

“There used to be a time when the state could fully fund the kind of research we need to be able to support producers,” Kalmbacher said, “but today, there is so much competition for state dollars that we need to have additional money to cover the cost of research that is so important for production agriculture.

“It supports the producers’ industry, and they need to get behind it and give support. A certain portion goes back for the nuts and bolts — things that help — and we need all the help we can get.”

Though this may seem like an issue that only affects ranchers, the general public has and can benefit from the funding raised through the mandate, Yarber assured, as she remembered four local children who participated in a beef judging contest — a type of event that is possible partially from the dollar bills their neighbors paid to sell their animals — who were able to attend the event and learn more about the industry.

President of the N.C. Cattlemen’s Association Bill Cameron said in a press release that the referendum will help assess the number of cattle sold and marketed in the state, with hopes of bettering the industry.

Cameron also mentioned the dairy farmers will see benefits of this mandate, too; it’s not beef exclusive.

Those who will be filling out ballots next week, keep in mind:

No one under the age of 18 will be eligible to vote.

Any resident who claims ownership of cattle may attend. An affidavit must be filled out to verify age,ownership and residency.

All eligible voters must vote in their county.

Absentee ballots may be obtained by contacting the N.C. Cooperative Extension office at (704)736-8452, and must be completed and received before 5 p.m. Oct. 4.

Voting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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