The US beef promotion program is set to survive after opponents failed to submit enough valid petitions from cattle producers to require a referendum, the United States Agriculture Department (USDA) have announced.


Opponents of the beef promotion program known for the slogan “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner”, required at least 107,833 valid signatures to have a referendum on whether they wanted to continue with the current beef program. An audit by the Pricewaterhouse Coopers accounting firm estimates that no more than 83,464 were valid.


The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), a group that has led opposition to the beef program, claim they submitted 127,927 petitions to the department and filed a suit last month to force USDA to hold a referendum. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for 25 January.


Opponents of the beef program argue that the USDA supervision has done little to stop the decline in beef consumption. Producers currently pay a fee of US$1 per cow that raises about US$80m a year for the program.


The USDA also control promotion programs for other agricultural products including milk, dairy products and eggs.


“It’s time now to move forward and focus on the future, instead of the past,” said George Hall, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which is partly funded by the fee. “It’s our hope that we can now give even more attention to increasing beef demand, which is of critical importance to our industry.”