June 8, 2021
Media Contact: Mike Eby
LINCOLN, NE: Recently, Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network in conjunction with KIWA Radio aired an interview with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Collin Woodall who misspoke saying, “R-CALF USA and the Organization for Competitive Markets petitioned USDA to terminate the National Beef Checkoff program last July.” Vaughn Meyer, president of OCM appreciates Mr. Woodall’s attempt to credit OCM with the noble initiation of requesting a referendum vote for the first time in the 35 year beef Checkoff history. However, that credit rightfully is attributed to the South Dakota Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) along with other state’s livestock marketing entrepreneurs.
It appears this expanding number of sale facility managers, the front line collectors of misused checkoff funds, are tired of being tax collectors for the Federal Government: especially when their tax collections are assisting the big corporate packers to squash customer livelihoods.
Realizing the disservice of the current derailed beef checkoff to the producers who pay the tax, OCM and other state and national associations were obliged to step up to the plate and assist with the referendum to give the silent majority their first chance to express their checkoff wishes. However, it is regretful that all organizations that claim to represent cattle producers did not join in this historic referendum as set forth in the Beef Promotion Research Act and Order. It is also unclear as to why our own Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) which periodically conducts and publishes positive news polls would not want to join in polling its huge mandatory membership.
Unfortunately, Mr. Woodall is correct in his statement that the referendum does not allow for changes or improvements to the checkoff. As many of us witnessed during our state and national checkoff board tenures, there was never a willingness to submit recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture in accordance with the Beef Act and Order. Therefore, our largest beef checkoff contractor, NCBA, leaves only one alternative for producers wishing to reclaim their checkoff and that alternative is to replace the derailed checkoff with a new checkoff. Producers need a “back to the basics” checkoff with the original mission to promote their product, USA Beef. We need checkoff programs that strive to stop dwindling producer and feedlot numbers rather than a revenue source for our largest contractor which generates approximately 80% of their annual revenue. Possibly, producers could hope for a new checkoff that would concern itself with issues like declining per capita beef consumption or producer lost share of the beef dollar.
Most of all, a new checkoff should enlist the assistance of independent private-industry contractors who follow the Act and Order rules against using checkoff funds for lobbying. Producers need contractors who fight for the U.S. beef industry, unlike the NCBA and USMEF combining forces with foreign countries and packers to deprive cattle-producing families of billions of dollars the past seven years. A new checkoff should have contractors with integrity, unlike NAMI who recently lobbied Congress to stop the Senator Rounds-Smith letter for an investigation of marketing structure.
Financially, a new checkoff should not include a ghost sub-entity hidden in the closet that circumvents $8-10 million of producer checkoff funding from State Beef Councils (SBCs) into the contractor’s coffers without producer transparency. A new checkoff should be structured with a stand-alone Federation of State Beef Councils rather than the current overseer, conveniently tucked under the NCBA wing, which fulfills the 50% monopoly over CBB Operating Committee seats. Also within the new checkoff, all financial records should be available to those who pay the dollar per head tax.
Also stated in the interview is,” The Checkoff assessment was made mandatory when the program was approved by almost 80% of producers in a 1988 national referendum vote.” This 80% number sounds huge but to put the actual numbers into perspective, only 20% of producers voted so 80% of those voting translates to approximately 16% of all producers actually approved the current checkoff.
In conclusion to Mr. Woodall’s thoughts, signing the petition at checkoffvote.com is hiding nothing but merely seeking a checkoff vote which the Beef Act and Order states as producers may request a periodical referendum. If 10 per centum are obtained then a vote will be conducted. Mr. Woodall suggests the vote should not be an up or down vote but rather a “changing or improving” vote. That vote would also be good news to producers who have long-awaited changes that have fallen upon deaf ears. As president of a genuine producer association, Vaughn Meyer awaits your suggested changes but in the meantime, OCM will move forward with the only current path of checkoff reform.
Organization for Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506