Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Tuesday 08/19/14

NFU Leaders Want to Walk Away from Beef Talks

Leaders in the National Farmers Union want the group to walk away from a three-year effort to reshape the beef-checkoff program.

The beef industry working group has largely been a quiet affair until the past few weeks. First, leaders of R-CALF complained about the process because R-CALF has been excluded from the talks. Now, NFU is willing to abandon the discussions.

The committee unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday recommending that the Farmer Union Board of Directors officially withdraw from the beef industry working group. State presidents told DTN late Tuesday that working group had been meeting for three years, but a draft Memorandum of Understanding being passed around the industry didn't reform the checkoff or make enough changes over control of checkoff dollars.

"NFU has been working for the past three years to reform the beef checkoff system with other beef industry stakeholders. In accordance with NFU’s 2014 national convention Special Order of Business on the beef checkoff, NFU is hereby withdrawing from this working group, as the process is unlikely to result in necessary reform. It is time for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to react to beef producers’ demand to reform this system," the NFU Legislative Committee stated.

The working group formed from a coalition of organizations, some of which saw a chance to reshape the way checkoff funds or managed. Other groups saw an opportunity to increase the $1 per head assessment as part of the process as well.

NFU's Legislative Committee expects the group's board of directors will take up the resolution during the NFU fly-in to Washington, D.C., in early September.

The resolution added that certain changes to the checkoff are necessary:

-The Cattlemen's Beef Board must have the authority to carry out checkoff projects on its own, similar to other checkoff oversight boards.

-The CBB must be allowed to enter into checkoff contracts with non-policy organizations and private companies, such as ad agencies and public relations firms, in order to prevent policy-driven organizations from using checkoff dollars to fund overhead for political activity.

-The beef checkoff must be completely refundable.

-A referendum on the continuation of the beef checkoff must occur every five years.

NFU members also want USDA consider rewriting the beef check off program under the 1996 generic research and promotion act.

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Posted at 9:40PM CDT 08/19/14 by Chris Clayton
Comments (2)
If all producer check-offs were, "refundable", accountability would police itself. When groups become entitled, due to mandates, problems arise from with-in. Even if the intent is pure and well intentioned.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 5:34AM CDT 08/20/14
Until you take the American Meat Institute out of the NCBA there will not be any reform. NCBA wants the money and AMI wants to make the policy.
Posted by melvin meister at 11:04AM CDT 08/21/14
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