OCM: Complaint Filed Over Oklahoma Beef Council and Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Illegally Influencing Checkoff Vote

by OCM staff | October 3, 2017

October 3, 2017

Already riddled in scandal, OBC and OCA continue to break the law

TONKAWA, OK – Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General following the discovery that the Oklahoma Beef Council has joined the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, an agriculture industry trade organization, in campaigning and promoting a “yes” vote on a state referendum that would force Oklahoma farmers and ranchers to pay in addition to the Federal Beef Checkoff fee, an additional state fee of $1.00 for every head of cattle they sell.

The complaint states that “The Council and the national Beef Checkoff’s funds and trademarked logo, mark and symbol are illegally being used to promote and influence government policy and action by supporting and promoting a “yes” vote on the referendum. […] Federal law explicitly bans The Beef Council from influencing governmental action or policy. Supporting and promoting an increase in fees by The Beef Council is clearly a violation of this explicit prohibition.”

Example of fake, confusing, and illegal trademark use in promoting “yes” vote.

Compounding this illegal use of checkoff funds and trademark is the fact that the Oklahoma Beef Council has just recently disclosed that over $2,600,000 of federally mandated Beef Checkoff fees under their watch have been stolen over a 10-year period. The complaint continues, “from their gross negligence of accountability for federal tax dollars and the accountability they owe to every Oklahoma family farmer and rancher who is mandated to pay these fees, it is absolutely clear The Council does not have the accounting procedures in place or the sophistication and expertise to provide an accurate accounting of the funds they are currently entrusted.”

Oklahoma farmer and OCM board member Paul Muegge said, “This is just another example of how we cannot trust the Oklahoma Beef Council. They are cheating again. Oklahoma cattle producers need to turn out October 2nd through November 1st to vote “no” to stop the abuses. Since the Oklahoma Beef Council is allowing out-of-state corporate beef interests and our Oklahoma children to vote on this tax increase for Oklahoma cattle producers, we need Oklahoma cattle producers to make their voice heard, too.”

The complaint makes three requests of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General:

  1. “We request that The Council be ordered to cease and desist all activities and expenditures associated with this state referendum and any efforts to assess Oklahoma cattle producers a $1.00 fee on all cattle sold in Oklahoma. Further, we request that they be held accountable for any expenditures they have made and for any costs they have incurred in the promotion of the state referendum.”
  2. “We are further requesting the OIG conduct a full and complete investigation and a full and complete audit of the activities of The Beef Council and the federally mandated beef checkoff funds they have collected and expended over the past 10 years. We request the findings of the investigation and the full audit be released to the public along with all documents detailing the last 10 years of collections and expenditures by The Council and any contractor who has received any of the federally mandated Beef Checkoff funds.”
  3. “We request OIG demand all parties to include the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association who are using the fake and confusing mark, logo and symbol to immediately cease and desist from its utilization for any and all purposes.”

Media Contact: Angela Huffman, 614-390-7552