Secretary Vilsack has announced that he will take summary action to reform the Beef Checkoff. NCBA has dubbed the initiative “train wrecking the Checkoff”. Not surprising since the change may threaten their gravy train. The Checkoff represents more than 80% of their total revenue. The Checkoff program is a dismal failure which has been made into an NCBA slush fund. Until Vilsack’s proposal is more clearly defined, OCM will not take a position for or against the impending action.
What is abundantly clear is that if the NCBA contract with the program continues as is, Checkoff funds will assuredly be used to frustrate any real reform. The NCBA contract is a clear and classic conflict of interest which is prohibited in the Beef Checkoff enabling legislation, implementing order and AMS guidelines for oversight. It is clear that in spite of the NCBA’s supposed accounting firewall, the millions of Beef Checkoff dollars a year NCBA receives through their self-dealing contract, guarantees them the ability to buy the brand equity necessary to claim to be “The voice of the US Cattlemen.” They then use this political clout to push the meat packer’s agenda through the halls of our state houses and our national capitol. During the farm bill debate they even worked to kill Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the end to the final sections of the hard fought GIPSA antitrust regulations. When they failed to get their way in conference, they worked to kill the entire Farm Bill.
OCM urges the Secretary to use his administrative powers to declare the NCBA contract a conflict of interest. It is our understanding his legal advisory team believes he does not have that authority. Our very competent legal advisors insist that he does have the authority and the duty to make such a declaration and terminate the contract.
Little wonder that Secretary Vilsack would receive less than objective advice. In 2004, OCM and other allied organizations released a paper entitled; USDA INC. :HOW AGRIBUSINESS HAS HIJACKED REGULATORY POLICY AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. It is generally accepted that USDA is a captive agency, permeated with individuals and sleeper cells, planted by NCBA and others.
OCM calls on the Secretary, to declare the Beef Checkoff contract with NCBA a clear, classic and prohibited conflict of interest. Disregard the bad legal advice and do your duty; declare NCBA in conflict of interest and terminate NCBA’s control of the Beef Checkoff!
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