Beef Buzz News
Checkoff Programs, Including the Beef Checkoff, Vindicated in Senate Farm Bill Vote
Wed, 20 Jun 2012 05:39:44 CDT
The Beef Checkoff, along with all other mandatory commodity checkoff programs, were under fire on Tuesday on the floor of the US Senate. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina offered an amendment to the 2012 Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill being debated this week that would have mandated that all checkoff programs would be voluntary, meaning anyone who did not like how the money was being spent could withdraw from the program.
Ron Hays Beef Buzzes about the vote in the US Senate on all Ag Checkoff Programs.
DeMint argued on the Senate Floor that large corporate interests were the entities that organized the checkoffs- forcing small independent producers to pay money for programs they don't like. One group that was delighted to see a vote on this measure was the Organization for Competitive Markets, who took dead aim at the Beef Checkoff in a news release from earlier Tuesday- before the vote. "These checkoff programs, funded by assessments of products in a number of agricultural industries, were started as a way to raise funds that would be used to encourage research, promotion, and production in each individual industry. However, while these programs and their funds are overseen by government entities managed by the USDA, the private groups contracted by these entities have been accused of not handling their checkoff dollars in the best interest of producers in their respective industries.
"The most notable checkoff contractor to have its allegiance questioned is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which has been accused of mishandling the funds of the Cattleman’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB) and its Beef Checkoff program. Mike Callicrate, Vice President of OCM, stated, “The checkoff programs have proven to be more of a revenue stream for big industry touts like NCBA, instead of helping the independent producers that are forced by law to fund the programs. The NCBA has repeatedly stood in opposition to the interests of independent cattlemen in favor of the big packers and retailers.”
Other groups came out strongly in favor of the Checkoff programs, including the Beef Checkoff program. Stakeholders from all corners of the ag industry signed onto a letter calling on the Senate to reject the DeMint Amendment. "With oversight provided by USDA, producers have taken it upon themselves to fund over $905 million of research, promotion and consumer education programs annually through checkoff activities at no cost to the federal government," stated the groups in the letter. "In these austere budgetary times, our producers should be commended and certainly deserve the support of Congress. Our members see the checkoff programs as an investment in their families’ future which they and their fellow producers have voluntarily adopted."
Today's Beef Buzz lets you hear the arguments made by Senator DeMint for this amendment- and the strong response given in support of Checkoffs by Senate Ag Committee Chairlady, Debbie Staebnow of Michigan.
At the end of the debate on 2276, the Senate sent a strong vote of confidence to Checkoff programs- defeating the DeMint proposal by a 20 to 79 vote.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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