OCM Still Focused on Competitive Markets

On August 11th, OCM will return to the Airport Embassy Suites in Kansas City for our annual convention. There, in October of 1998, OCM was founded and declared its mission to be reestablishing fair and competitive markets for agriculture. Fair and competitive markets are what OCM still strives for; not as an end in themselves but as a critical contributor to the survival of independent family agriculture, a tenable rural America and our national food security. In my Read More …

The Family Farm

I am Fred Stokes from Porterville, Mississippi. I am happy and honored to be a participant in this conference. Ralph Nader is one of my heroes and the epitome of unselfish commitment to worthy causes. I was born on a small diversified family farm in Kemper County Mississippi, the home of the late Senator John C. Stennis. After spending some 20 years in the Army, I retired and returned to my home country to get rich in the Read More …

Reform the Beef Checkoff Program: Terminate the NCBA gravy train!

Secretary Vilsack has proposed a new Beef Checkoff Program, which is in addition to the current one which will remain as is. As I understand it, three years after the new program goes into effect there would be a referendum to see if Checkoff payers liked it. In the meantime, the present program would continue and NCBA would presumably continue its lock on the contracting process for the current (mandatory) program and thereby receive more than 80% of Read More …

Guideline for AMS Oversight of Commodity Research and Promotion Programs

Conflicts of Interest in Research and Promotion Programs As a general matter of policy, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) guidelines for oversight of all checkoff programs expressly require contracting procedures that “avoid any conflict of interest or a situation that could reasonably be perceived by a third party as a conflict of interest.”1 The Beef Order includes provisions that reflect these principles, as well. Before service on the board or as a Federation representative on the Beef Promotion Read More …

Briefing for USDA AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo

Ms. Alonzo, I am Fred Stokes representing The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), a sixteen year old non-profit advocate for a fair marketplace for what farmers and ranchers buy and what they sell.In other words, we want the game to be straight. I thank you for giving us this opportunity to express our concerns regarding the Beef Promotion and Research Program, commonly known as the Beef Checkoff. OCM has associated itself with other like-minded groups, including the Humane Read More …

The NCBA Beef Checkoff Contract: A Blatant, Fundamental and Egregious Conflict of Interest

To my bitter disappointment, the many efforts at reform of the cattle markets over the past 16 years have been frustrated by meatpackers and their minions. Chief minion has been the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). This organization is believed by many to be on the side of beef cattle producers. However, it has opposed every major market reform initiative; most notably the ban on packer ownership of cattle, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and putting the teeth Read More …

The Other Shoe Drops

The second “final” report on the USDA OIG Audit of the Beef Checkoff was released the end of January. An earlier seventeen page report was released in March of 2013 but was shortly withdrawn for “additional audit work” under withering charges of whitewash and cover-up. It was generally accepted that the audit was prompted by the disturbing findings in an Audit in 2010, ordered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). You may recall that the CBB ordered audit Read More …

Latest Chapter in Beef Checkoff Saga; USDA OIG Relents

A letter dated November 4, 2013 from USDA Office of Inspector General contained some very welcome news, specifically: “…your FOIA appeal is granted”. For some time OCM’s legitimate request for material relating to a particular OIG audit had met with what could best be described as evasion and stalling. But, unlike previous correspondence from this agency, this letter was signed personally by the Inspector General, Phyllis K. Fong. Background: Back in July of 2010, an outside independent audit Read More …