R-CALF: Remove NCBA’s Control of Beef Checkoff Dollars

January 26, 2010 06:00 PM

Source: R-CALF USA press release

R-CALF USA members who attended the group's 11th annual convention in Rapid City, S.D., last week addressed the battle between the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) regarding NCBA's efforts to gain additional control over National Beef Checkoff Program funds, which are monies created when producers and importers pay a mandatory $1/head fee each time they sell an individual animal.

When CBB representatives came to Montana in August 2008 to meet with R-CALF USA directors to gather information on R-CALF USA's views of the Beef Checkoff and hear suggestions on how to improve the program, R-CALF USA directors were adamant that the Beef Checkoff Program should not be controlled by a politically motivated entity such as the NCBA.

"We're hopeful the CBB folks will look out for the interests of actual cattle producers, and we certainly hope they will stand their ground and refuse to be intimidated into granting even more control to NCBA,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

R-CALF USA members who attended the convention unanimously approved the following proposed resolution, which will go to all members this spring in a mail-in ballot:

WHEREAS: All cattle producers pay into the federally mandated Beef Checkoff and  the Federation of State Beef Councils was put in place to represent all cattle producers regardless of affiliation or non-affiliation in various policy driven organizations within the cattle industry,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: R-CALF USA rejects the idea of any one organization or any one organization's board of directors having the sole authority for the decisions made by, or the direction of, the Federation of State Beef Councils;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that contractors be prohibited from placing their name or logo on Beef Checkoff projects they oversee.

"This proposed resolution speaks to the need of putting a real firewall, a total separation between the NCBA and the Federation of Beef Councils,” said R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair Joel Gill. "And further, I for one, am irritated every time I see some sort of Checkoff material and at the bottom of it, it's got ‘Funded by NCBA and the CBB. On Coca-Cola products, you don't see the name of the advertising agency anywhere. You don't see, ‘Funded by XYZ Advertising Agency and Coca-Cola.'

"Also, NCBA is almost always credited with the Beef Mobile program, even though NCBA doesn't run that one,” he continued. "CBB needs to give producers actual confidence that they're funding a Checkoff program rather than a competing cattle organization. We also want our Checkoff dollars to be used to promote USA beef instead of generic beef.”

Former R-CALF USA Region IV Director Jay Platt indicated that many of the individuals serving on the Arizona Beef Council are not, in fact, full time cattle producers. Platt resigned from his position last week to do long-term missionary work abroad. His sons will continue to operate the family ranch.

"Someone who does not make a living as a full-time producer will view very differently how dollars ought to be spent on projects than someone who does indeed make their living running cows would view how those dollars are spent,” he said. "I think that most certainly is a defect if the Checkoff is to truly be a producer program.”

"As a former sale barn owner, I've collected about $2.5 million dollars for the Checkoff, and back in 1985 I was holding meetings, talking in favor the Checkoff, but our biggest problem is that the producer is not being heard,” said R-CALF USA Co-Founder and Past Region III Director Herman Schumacher. "If our people had known when all this came out that the Checkoff wasn't designed to solely promote USA beef, they would've never voted for it. There should be proportional advertising with proportional giving.”

”R-CALF USA is really adamant about not raising the amount of the assessment until these and other changes occur, and then at that point, we could see if producers wanted to pass it as a referendum,” Bullard pointed out. "If genuine producers aren't allowed to participate in the process and in the direction of the program, then there will be great, great opposition to any increase in the assessment fee.”

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