The North Carolina Cattlemen's Association will hold a statewide referendum on March 30 for cattle producers to decide if they want to revert back to a state assessment program if something happens to the national assessment program. Voting will be held at county Extension offices.

The wording of the referendum is to continue a dollar per head assessment program for cattle marketed in North Carolina. It is not an additional dollar and will not be collected unless something happens to the national assessment program, currently in place nationwide. The assessment would be collected through livestock markets and cattle buyers in the same manner as the national assessment.

The full board of directors of the North Carolina Cattlemen's Association voted unanimously in February to call for the referendum. It was authorized by the North Carolina Board of Agriculture at its November 16, 2004 meeting.

Keith Blinson, president of the North Carolina Cattlemen's Association, noted that the producers of the state of North Carolina first started an assessment program in 1957.

“The original program was superceded by the national assessment program in 1987 and has been operating for the last 18 years.” “There have been some legal challenges to the national program and the board of directors wants to make sure that if something happens to the national program, we can go back to the program we had before 1987,” Blinson said. “The differences between the national program and the state program would be new referendums on a recurring basis and a refund provision for the state program, neither of which occurs in the national program.”

Blinson noted the referendum schedule and refund provision would be set by the rules that govern all assessment programs currently operating under the state's enabling act.

All North Carolina cattle owners over the age of 18 on March 30, 2005, can vote during the regular business hours at their local county office of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

For more details contact the North Carolina Cattlemen's Association, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or your local county office of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.