Tri-State Livestock News: Meyer: My Fake News Checkoff

by Vaughn Meyer | August 22, 2019

This past week, the Cattlemans Beef Board (CBB) shared the “good news” results of our producer Return on Investment (ROI) study. Dr. Harry Kaiser, professor of economics at Cornell University, conducted another 5 year ROI update embodying more positive attributes for beef producers. Dr. Kaiser’s analysis concluded a 71 cent increase over our 2014 ROI of $11.20. Seventy-one cents doesn’t appear to be a huge increase after the 2014 $5.65 ROI increase, however, Kaiser gives us the tools to calculate our investment portfolios. He says, “The revenue generated by the Checkoff ultimately filters back down to the producer level.” Essentially, he says a producer could calculate their own return from their investment in the Checkoff by taking the total amount of their investment and multiplying it by $11.91. The sum of that equation is what a producer should be able to conclude as their own return.

While the CBB is beating their “good news” drum, apparently no one clued in CBB and Dr. Kaiser that since the 2015 Beef Checkoff assistance in repealing Country of Origin Labeling, no profits have filtered down to producers. Actually gigantic 40 percent losses to market cattle and 48 percent producer calf prices have robbed producers of $30 billion dollars the past 4 years.

In the 2014 the checkoff ROI was positive on the high market years when Dr. Kaiser’s research was taking credit for the market gains established by COOL restrictions on beef labeling. However, after the 2015-2016 markets were pillaged by our two top contractors, we found the actual ROI for 2015 was a minus $328. Using two more years of producer losses accompanied by two more years of contractor fees, the true calculation of Dr. Kaiser’s 2019 ROI is a negative $173.75. This latest ROI update is a slight improvement but it still contributes to the downward death spiral of thousands of farmers, ranchers and main street businesses.

The recent Dr. Kaiser / CBB ROI proclamation is nothing but “Fake News” fabricated to cover up the theft of producer dollars by the big 4 corporate packing monopolies. In the past, two of these foreign monopolies have demonstrated they are above our laws and regulations with their underhanded dealings!

This recent ROI update is nothing new as our checkoff has a whole plethora of “pat your back” tools for producer hypnosis including an ongoing University of Wyoming checkoff funded Beef Sustainability study. Preliminary results of this study brag of more whopping producer benefits including a $57.67 per acre valuation increase for our ranches, a $726 valuation increase per cow and eighty-six cents / pound benefits on 5 weight cattle!

Another ongoing “feel good” producer communication is the recent US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) May export value was $313.39 / head. This is the extra value to each beef animal due to exports. USMEF receives approximately $10 million annually of your Beef Checkoff dollars with matching funds from USDA.

Producers should be gratified because without the $1,139.39 sustainability and export benefits cows would be worthless. In accordance with CBB proclamation an average producer with 200 cows can expect approximately $517,600 in increased assets of cattle, real estate and investment portfolios which will lend credibility to his loan balance sheet.

All this “feel good-fake news” should have producers laughing all the way to the bank; however, on a serious note thirty billion dollars in producer losses are unsustainable to our industry as well as the sovereignty of the United States America. Our Beef Checkoff equates to a money laundering scheme designed to feed the packer- NCBA policy presence in Washington D.C.

In the past our Checkoff has secured membership in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) which conforms to United Nation control under Agenda 21. The principle members of GRSB promote agriculture practices aimed at control and removal of animal agriculture from high priority areas.

If our Beef Checkoff wants to boast sustainability, it should be centered on the first priority of keeping family farmers and ranchers on the land. In lieu of creating fabricated producer communications it would make more sense to conduct a study of why per capita beef consumption has fallen 22.4 pounds or 28.4 percent since 1985. Maybe CBB could invest our checkoff dollars to study the market effects of imported beef wrapped in a USA label?

The bottom line is, “your Beef Checkoff has aided and abetted the demise of nearly 400,000 producers since 1984.” A huge proportion of your annual 80 million dollars transcends across that superficial fake fire wall between checkoff affairs and policy lobbying procedures; lobbying efforts which have escalated packer profits to new highs at producer’s expense.

U.S. agriculture is experiencing some of the toughest economic conditions of the past 90 years resulting from control of production agriculture by a few monopolistic global corporations who ultimately dominate marketing and much of the daily production inputs. Our only hope for survival is to get involved and demand checkoff and market transparency.

Vaughn Meyer

Reva, SD

P.S. If you have not received your “trickle down” checkoff ROI, you might want to calculate according to DR. Kaiser’s figures and bill to CBB or state beef councils including late payment fees!