Cattle ranchers in the US are required to pay $1 per head to the government which then transfers the money to different trade associations intended to promote the beef industry. Most of the money goes to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, which is mostly an insane lobbying group arguing against commonsense regulations. They’re the group that is fighting against the labeling of beef that would tell you where beef was from – something many ranchers (humane/organic/sustainable ranchers mostly) want. While the NCBA is a trade organization with membership fees, over 90% of it’s revenue comes from that $1 per cattle tax charged to ranchers. Basically, without this “marketing” tax, our food industry in general, and our beef industry specifically would be a lot better off. Washington Monthly wrote about it here. The last couple paragraphs have the most bullshit.
And in the case of the NCBA, the degree of subsidy is particularly extreme. With its membership having shrunk from 40,000 in 1994 to 26,000 today, only 7 percent of the NCBA’s revenue comes from membership dues. That means that most of the cost of its overhead, from the $434,477 it paid its chief executive in 2010 to the cost of keeping the lights on and maintaining its Web site, comes from public money. As such, the comingling of its public money with lobbying activity is inherent and of great value. If the NCBA didn’t have those checkoff funds, says rancher Steve Charter, “they would have a pretty tough time keeping going.” Put another way, without the public money it receives, the NCBA might not even exist, and certainly would not have the lobbying clout it has today.