Seven national organizations that are members of the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group – including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Milk Producers Federation – reached an agreement Friday on how to proceed with a campaign to increase the checkoff from one-dollar per head to two-dollars per head – according to sources. The group has been working to reach an agreement that would have support to ask Congress for an increase in the checkoff – but the main dispute has been the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s role in managing the checkoff and how much assistance the checkoff provides small producers versus large producers. The group will continue working to develop a road map for simultaneously recommending and advocating for the outcomes highlighted in the revised Memorandum of Understanding.
The National Farmers Union, one of the groups who will not sign the memorandum, says the MOU is a waste of everyone’s time because it will fail to achieve the real reforms that need to be made. NFU President Roger Johnson says the MOU also proposes a refundable increase in the assessment of one-dollar and allows for national lobbying organizations that are major recipients of checkoff dollars to be on the nominating committee for the Beef Promotion Operating Committee – which he says creates a clear conflict of interest for the checkoff. Johnson says NFU’s vision for the checkoff would ensure control of the program is held by producers actively involved in production agriculture, exclusively promote domestic product, exclude processors from leadership positions and financial responsibility and review referendums executed by USDA every five-years.
The United States Cattlemen’s Association also abstained from signing the MOU. USCA Past President Jon Wooster says USCA is committed to seeing meaningful checkoff reform through to fruition. USCA leadership would like to continue to be a part of the process and will remain active on the issue – Wooster says – and pursue any effort to bring unbiased and open-minded individuals to the table to discuss substantial enhancements to the checkoff program. Unfortunately – he says the MOU fell far short of USCA’s expectations in the form of structural changes that would warrant USCA’s support for an increase in the assessment.Share