Northern Ag Network
posted on October 17, 2012 09:17 :: 376 Views
The following is a press release from R-CALF USA:
Billings, MT - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded to R-CALF USA's August 28, 2012 letter that demanded the Secretary protect the Beef Checkoff Program (Beef Checkoff) "against the ongoing, unlawful expenditure of producers' Beef Checkoff funds by immediately ordering the permanent suspension of any and all contracts between the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Beef Checkoff."
In addition, R-CALF USA's demand letter stated that Vilsack "must initiate a rulemaking to make it crystal clear that organizations that contract with the Beef Checkoff are barred from engaging in lobbying activities."
In his response to R-CALF USA's demands, Vilsack indicated that he would await the findings of the audit conducted by his agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG), which focused on the accounting of checkoff dollars by the Cattlemen's Beef Board and its contractors, including NCBA. Vilsack stated the OIG audit findings are due this fall and that he would take actions to address any issues brought to his attention by the audit.
Though R-CALF USA did not like Vilsack's response, it stated in its reply that "we do recognize the legitimacy of your position to await the findings of the audit initiated by your agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) prior to your formulation of a definitive course of action."
Also in its reply, R-CALF USA requested a personal meeting with Vilsack soon following the release of the OIG audit and before Vilsack formulates a course of action pursuant to that audit.
The group argued that a timely, personal meeting between Vilsack and R-CALF USA officials was now necessary because the National Farmers Union (NFU), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and other industry groups had all rallied behind the NCBA to defend it from R-CALF USA's persistent efforts to disqualify the NCBA from receiving Beef Checkoff funds. The NFU, AFBF, NCBA and other groups openly barred R-CALF USA from participating in a Beef Checkoff Industry Input Group discussion on the Beef Checkoff Program on September 24.
"As a result of the actions taken by the National Farmers Union and others to insulate the NCBA from R-CALF USA members' concerns, any recommendation that may be made by the Beef Checkoff Industry Input Group regarding the Beef Checkoff Program must be viewed as self-serving and non-reflective of the interests of U.S. cattle producers. This is because only a few among the many U.S. cattle producers would condone the actions by these groups to exclude R-CALF USA - the largest producer-only cattle association in the United States whose members contribute several millions of dollars of checkoff funds each year - from an open and honest discussion about the Beef Checkoff Program," states R-CALF USA's letter.
"A personal meeting between you and R-CALF USA representatives, as we are requesting, will enable the thousands of cattle producer voices that R-CALF USA represents to have their concerns and suggestions articulated and subsequently considered by you before you decide on a definitive course of action with which to restore the integrity of the Beef Checkoff Program," R-CALF USA wrote.
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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.
Source: R-CALF USA
Posted by Haylie Shipp