The results of Tuesday's national beef referendum won't be announced until May 25, said Michael Sibbett, executive vice president of the Utah Cattlemen's Association.
He said 1.3 million American farmers and ranchers were eligible to vote Tuesday whether to continue paying $1 per head of cattle into a fund that promotes beef consumption and conducts beef research."There were an estimated 8,000 in Utah that could have voted, but we don't know yet how big a turnout we had in this state or nationally," Sibbett said.
"U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Richard Lyng will make the final announcement from Washington, D.C. It takes time to count the votes and there will be a short period when votes can be contested before the final announcement is made," he said.
Sibbett said every major farm organization in Utah is in favor of continuing the beef checkoff that began Oct. 1, 1986. "We are pretty sure Western cattlemen and farmers are in favor of the program, but we are not sure how the Northeastern and Southern states are going to vote."
He said thousands of volunteers conducted telephone campaigns for several days prior to the referendum, trying to interest farmers and ranchers in casting their vote at Cooperative Extension offices in counties across the country.
"We had a lot of bad weather last week that kept farmers away from their fields, and the weather has been good this week, so there was a temptation not to bother voting and work on their farms, instead. Some farmers in Utah and in many places in the nation had to drive several hours to get to a voting place," he said.