BY Organization for Competitive Markets | October 18, 2015
Thursday, before a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, and the attorneys for Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), the OIG reconfirmed their commitment to produce thousands of documents related to the 2013-2014 Beef Checkoff audit report. This assurance was issued last week during a status hearing a little more than a year after the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) filed a complaint for injunctive relief in U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia demanding the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture make a final determination and release all required records related to a 2013 FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request regarding Beef Checkoff audit reports.
The legal action stems from an action by OCM to obtain documents from an OIG Beef Checkoff audit that began in February 2011. The audit was presumably prompted by the findings of a Clifton Gunderson Accounting Firm performance review commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. According to OCM, after examining the equivalent of a mere nine days of activity, irregularities were uncovered which resulted in NCBA having to return more than $200,000.
More than two years after beginning its investigation–and after generating more than 3,000 pages of report drafts–OIG released a, seventeen-page report which stated; “The Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that the relationships between the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (beef board) and other industry-related organizations…complied with legislation,” This statement was later removed from the report, says OCM.
“As I have said before, there is no doubt that NCBA has been empowered by the some $50 million it has received annually for two decades now, and has used its resulting influence to promote the interests of global meat packers and big retailers against the interests of Checkoff-paying cattlemen,” according to Fred Stokes, OCM member. “Today, we are pleased that the court continues to monitor the progress of our quest for the truth,” he said.
Attorneys for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed the complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. OCM says HSUS attorneys are providing representation in furtherance of their work to reform the Beef Checkoff on behalf of organizations like OCM and to prevent misuses of the program for activities detrimental to animal welfare.
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