Organization for Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506
Mike Callicrate, OCM President
April 11, 2013
Group Wants Answers to Questionable Audit Report
The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) announced today a series of actions in furtherance of its efforts to bring transparency and integrity to the beef checkoff program.
OCM has submitted a Freedom of Information Act demand for records relating to a questionable report released last week. In 2010, the Secretary of Agriculture sent a warning letter to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) expressing strong concerns about the legality of its checkoff-related activities. That same year, an independent audit revealed significant compliance violations in NCBA’s use of checkoff funds, resulting in the organization having to return hundreds of thousands of improperly billed expenditures back to the program.
A newly released audit from USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) failed to discover compliance problems in the checkoff program, even though the scope of the OIG audit covered the entirety of that covered by the independent audit that revealed glaring improper expenditures. In addition to the apparent conflicting findings of the two audits, the Secretary’s 2010 letter of warning appears to also be directly contrary to the OIG report.
In light of these irreconcilably conflicting conclusions, OCM is taking action today to demand the transparency that OIG admits is critical to the integrity of the checkoff program. OCM is also announcing that it is temporarily withdrawing its currently pending lawsuit while it assesses these latest developments, and awaits OIG’s response to its records request.
“Producers have a right to expect integrity and accountability for their checkoff dollars, but the conflicting audits and USDA positions prevent them from getting that,” said Mike Callicrate, OCM president. “Our actions today are taken in furtherance of OCM’s efforts to win back the checkoff for the producers it is supposed to benefit, which we intend to continue vigorously pursuing.”