The Beef Checkoff has come under attack recently. The organization known as the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA, has long been opposed to the way in which the Checkoff operates. This year, R-CALF has found support from a few others including some members of Congress who have agreed to introduce legislation that would alter how it works, especially in regards to its relationship with its main contractor, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. During a recent fly-in to Washington, DC, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays spoke with Colin Woodall, vice president of governmental affairs for NCBA, about this affront to the cattle industry. He says there is little chance of success for this legislation to pass.
“Fortunately, these bills will go through the House and Senate Ag committees and we have two chairmen that understand the Checkoff,” Woodall assured. “So, what we’re trying to do is bolster their efforts in order to educate all the new members of Congress and new staffers to let them know, these are not tax payer dollars. These are producer dollars and ultimately it’s producers who make the decisions on where that money is being spent.”
Woodall insists a voluntary program, as R-CALF would have it, would simply not work. He points out that all producers benefit the same and it was in fact the industry itself that came together to form the Checkoff as it is today, back in 1985. Another piece of legislation originating from this group would prohibit the Checkoff from contracting with any organization that employs lobbyists.
“That’s a direct attack on NCBA,” Woodall asserted. “But the fact is, the firewall that’s in place ensures that no Checkoff dollars are ever used on the policy activities we undertake.”