submitted last week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural
Marketing Service (AMS) regarding the agency's proposed rule to expand the
scope of organizations eligible to contract with the Beef Checkoff Program,
R-CALF USA stated the proposal was far too little and far too late "to achieve
any meaningful improvement to the Beef Checkoff Program.
fact, USDA's overly simplistic proposal is a hollow and disingenuous gesture in
light of the horrendous mismanagement and misappropriation of producer
contributions that NCBA (National Cattlemen's Beef Association) is known to
have committed and for which USDA remains ominously passive and silent," the
its four-page comment, R-CALF USA urged USDA to reinstate a previously proposed
eligibility requirement that only organizations that have a majority of cattle
producers on their board of directors can contract to receive Beef Checkoff
requirement that the cattle producer-financed Beef Checkoff Program awards
contract only to cattle producer-controlled organizations could not, in any
way, have led to a worse outcome than exists today," stated the group.
R-CALF USA's major request to USDA was to ask the agency to immediately reopen the public comment period for the proposed rule after the May 1, 2012, deadline and to propose additional amendments to the Beef Checkoff Program.
As an example of the type of additional amendments that R-CALF USA would like the agency to propose, the group wrote:
obvious first step would be for USDA to immediately require the full and
complete separation of the Federation (Federation of State Beef Councils) from
group also called the practice by the Federation to charge state beef councils
hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of having a seat on the
Federation a "pay-to-play" scheme that has all the elements of a sophisticated
money laundering scheme:
siphons large sums of producer contributions that are intended to be used for
beef promotion and research directly to the NCBA-controlled Federation, where
it is then funneled indirectly to the NCBA."
its conclusion, R-CALF USA wrote: "Unless USDA has developed, or intends to
develop, an additional strategy in
addition to its current proposal to genuinely level the competitive playing
field between the NCBA/Federation and any other eligible organization, the
proposed rule will do little, if anything, to restore the integrity of the Beef
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.