USCA and NFU to hold meetings on checkoffs future

News
Jul 29, 2011
by WLJ

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) last week released a joint letter from USCA and National Farmers Union (NFU) to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack indicating the two groups will host a national discussion of the beef checkoff and the program’s future.

On July 1, USCA requested Vilsack’s intervention into the controversy surrounding the beef checkoff. Representatives of USCA and NFU were in Washington, D.C., last week to meet with USDA officials about the checkoff program. The groups say that after conferring with the secretary, as well as other national cattle, farm and marketing organizations, the decision was made to proceed with plans to host industry-wide meetings to seek consensus on the divisive issues that are eroding investor trust and confidence in the beef checkoff and threatening the very future of the program.

USCA and NFU say the time has come for an expanded cattle industrywide discussion of the checkoff that will go beyond the policy changes being addressed by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) in Florida during early August. “The upcoming Farm Bill process in Congress presents an excellent legislative opportunity to make enhancements to the beef checkoff,” wrote USCA and NFU. “The planned industry-wide meetings will provide an opportunity for an agreement within the cattle industry on amending the Beef Promotion Act and Order to achieve the changes necessary for meaningful reform of the program.”

While logistics are currently being worked out, USCA and NFU say the initial meeting will likely be held in a central location served by major airlines to make travel as efficient as possible for participants.

USCA President Jon Wooster, San Lucas, CA, said the industry-wide talks will be all-inclusive, that all national groups with cattle interests will be invited to participate, and that USDA and CBB officials will also be involved in the process. “We will be moving forward methodically and expediently to organize the first of what could be a series of meetings,” said Wooster. “While we hope that the CBB meeting in Florida next week is positive and productive and results in the adoption of the proposed ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ recommendations, we also know that there is a more expansive discussion to be held and that it should incorporate the interests of all checkoff investors. This is an exciting opportunity to help shape the checkoff program’s future.” — WLJ

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