State Cattle GroupsTell USDA Secretary Vilsack- Back Off the Beef Checkoff Power GrabWed, 15 Oct 2014 05:53:03 CDT
On Tuesday, 45 state cattlemens' associations representing more than 170,000 cattle breeders, producers and feeders sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, urging him not to issue an Order for a supplemental beef checkoff under the 1996 General Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act. Bob McCan, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president and Victoria, Texas, cattleman says the strong turnout of signatories to this letter demonstrate the concern across the country with the Secretary's stated intention.
"Our state affiliates sent a clear message to the Secretary that they do not want a supplemental checkoff under the 1996 Act," said McCan. "NCBA stands firmly behind our grassroots producer organizations and we will do everything we can to support their efforts. The checkoff belongs to cattlemen, not to the USDA or any administration."
Among the groups signing the letter were the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, the Texas and Southwest Cattlemen's Association, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, the Kansas Livestock Association and the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.
Grassroots producers have been the cornerstone of the Beef Checkoff Program since it was first enacted in 1985. There is no required element of the 1996 Act that increases grassroots influence in national checkoff efforts. Furthermore, the 1996 Act assures no protection to state beef councils, and gives much greater power to the federal government.
"The Beef Checkoff is a non-political, non-partisan structure designed by cattle producers to increase and support beef demand," said McCan. "The Beef Checkoff serves all beef producers, nationwide, and the recent efforts by Secretary Vilsack do not serve the interests of producers, they only serve to politicize and polarize the industry. We are focused on how the Beef Checkoff can do more to support cattlemen and women; the Administration has focused on how they can use the Beef Checkoff for political spoils and to increase the control of the federal government."
In the letter, the organizations show little love for the so called "generic Commodity Checkoff Program Act."
"The 1996 Act gives much more control and power to the Federal Government. While we appreciate government oversight to assure funds are prop erly spent, we don't think the Secretary of Agriculture should have the power to establish the size of the boards, who sits on them, or whether or not the program should even exist.
"The 1996 Act adds to bureaucracy. The 1985 Act made it clear that already existing resources, staffs and facilities should be utilized, while the 1996 Act not only allows up to 15 percent of a dministrative expenses (the 1985 Act caps them at 5 percent), but leaves the door open for limitless administration and red tape.
"The 1996 Act fails to assure a coordinated national/state partnership concept. We are extremely concerned that Qualified State Beef Councils and their Federation are ignored in the 1996 Act. State beef council involvement through collection of the dollar, repr esentation on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee and on program - recommending joint checkoff program committees is crucial to our principles.
"The 1996 Act is too open - ended and subject to government, not producer, direction. We do not support giving t he Federal Government ongoing power to change industry fortunes through agency Orders and executive action with no industry input."
Click here to read the full letter and to view all groups signing off on the letter.
In addition, the NCBA was a part in establishing an online petition on the White House website that calls on the Obama Administration to not "hijack" the current Beef Checkoff. Click here for our earlier story on that petition drive.
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