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Evidence Suggests Corruption Runs Deep in Beef Checkoff Program

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Washington, D.C. - In a letter sent last week to the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), R-CALF USA asserts that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has long been improperly spending Beef Checkoff (Checkoff) funds to subsidize activities designed to influence governmental actions and policies, which are prohibited activities under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (Checkoff Act).    

NCBA - by its own admission - has routinely billed the Checkoff an unbelievable one-half of NCBA's officer travel, yet the laws governing the Checkoff make it clear that Checkoff funds are never to be used to influence governmental actions and policies related to the U.S. cattle industry.

  "This is preposterous as NCBA officers are the spokespeople for NCBA, and they have led NCBA's vehement opposition to some of the most critical and pivotal policy initiatives ever to face U.S. cattle producers - initiatives that we believe were supported by the preponderance of Checkoff-paying cattle producers," the letter states. "Allowing NCBA officers, with a fiduciary duty to advance the policy interests of their members, to subsidize their expenses through the Checkoff fundamentally violates conflict of interest principles that the government is obligated to prevent. To make matters worse, anecdotal evidence indicates that upwards of 60 percent to 70 percent of NCBA's overhead is paid with Checkoff dollars."

R-CALF USA is again calling for a thorough and probing investigation, going back at least 10 years, into NCBA's long history of Checkoff violations. R-CALF USA has furnished investigators with documents that list dates and locations of NCBA's policy activities that should not have been subsidized with Checkoff funds.  

"Many of these dates and locations, beginning in 2002, were events where R-CALF USA publicly debated NCBA officers on policy related issues," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "We want investigators to determine if R-CALF USA members not only paid to have their voices represented by R-CALF USA at these events, but also, if they were unlawfully forced to pay half of NCBA's officer travel so NCBA could fight against their interests through the wrongful use of R-CALF USA members' Checkoff contributions."

R-CALF USA asked investigators to determine if NCBA used Checkoff funds to participate in any of the following activities and events so they can determine the extent to which NCBA used Checkoff funds to promote its policy positions in violation of the Checkoff Act:  

March 2002: NCBA commissions Sparks Co. Inc. to create a report titled "Potential Impacts of the Proposed Ban on Packer Ownership and Feeding of Livestock.

July 2002: NCBA President Eric Davis and R-CALF USA testify before the U.S. Senate Ag Committee about packer ownership of livestock and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

November 2003: NCBA's Jay Truitt participates in a COOL summit in Denver, hosted by R-CALF USA.

February 2004: NCBA CEO Terry Stokes and R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard debate industry policies in La Junta, Colo.

April 2004: NCBA hires law firm, threatens to sue R-CALF USA for distributing video of the La Junta, Colo., debate between the two organizations.

April 2005: NCBA hires law firm to file an amicus brief on behalf of NCBA and 29 of its state affiliates in the lawsuit between R-CALF USA and USDA regarding USDA's administrative rule on mad cow disease.

September 2005: NCBA and R-CALF USA debate industry policies at the Clay County (Iowa) Fair Beef Industry Forum.

October 2005: NCBA and R-CALF USA debate industry policies at the Empire Farm Show in Seneca Falls, N.Y.; and, NCBA and R-CALF USA debate industry policies in Goliad, Texas.

November 2005: NCBA and R-CALF USA debate industry policies at the Wisconsin Livestock Industry Forum.

January 2006: NCBA and R-CALF USA debate industry policies at the Montana Winter Fair.

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R-CALF USA, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated (more...)
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