Mr. Weldon Wynn, Chairman
Cattlemen’s Beef Board
9000 E. Nichols Ave., Suite 215
Centennial, CO 80112
Dear Mr. Wynn,
The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) calls for the termination of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) as a contractor for the Beef Checkoff Program. The organization’s latest move demonstrates once again that it cannot be trusted with producer funds.
NCBA is now a plaintiff in a lawsuit to block the implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling that would allow producers to identify their products for consumers. Although a checkoff-funded study earlier this year showed consumers overwhelmingly want to know where their food is produced, NCBA has opposed the implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling.
Though unfortunate, NCBA is certainly permitted to oppose a program that is strongly supported by both producers and consumers. It should not be permitted, however, to simultaneously take checkoff dollars for promotional programs that do not meet producer interests and consumer preferences. When an organization has a stake in both sides of a battle, its loyalty to one side or the other can never be assured. Only an organization that can demonstrate conflict-free loyalty to producers should be entrusted with checkoff contracts. Despite very vocal assurances to the contrary, by filing a lawsuit to block implementation of country of origin labeling, NCBA has demonstrated its willingness to fight against producer and consumer interests. While NCBA may divide its loyalties in as many directions as it wants, producers deserve to have their promotional interests carried out by an organization that they know won’t work against them.
If NCBA continues its participation in legal efforts to block COOL, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee must not award the organization further checkoff contracts, the requirements of which are to satisfy consumer preferences. Consumers want COOL; NCBA wants to keep it from them. NCBA cannot fulfill its contractual obligations to the Beef Board to implement value-enhancing programs—like COOL—while also engaging in conduct that blocks such programs. Producers deserve better for their checkoff dollars.