Beef war game on!

US - The long suffering beef checkoff is back on the table and the foes of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) may have finally maneuvered a place at the trough. In an industry of strong willed people, this is the classic fight where no one has given up and no agenda has been surrendered.
calendar icon 5 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commissioned a survey of beef producers to document their views on the 20-year-old program to see if cattlemen favored a change of direction in philosophy and how the mandatory payment is spent. The results have been widely disseminated, including in this publication.

The perceptions and percentages have merit, but the real issue is power. Here are the players: --NCBA, based in Denver, which willed the $1 per head producer funded research, promotion and advertising program into existence over 20 years ago and has a strong relationship with the Cattlemen's Beef Board and USDA. The checkoff generates $45 million per year that is spent under the discretion of the Cattlemen's Beef Board.

Only certain entities may contract with the Beef Board, primary among them is NCBA. --Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), based in Kansas City, whose members are auction market operators and hold a close relationship with small cattle producers.

LMA has an avowed hatred for the packing industry as it circumvents their auction rings when buying cattle. --Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, the pained acronym (R-CALF), based in Billings, Montana. It is best known as a protectionist group protesting Canadian cattle entering the United States and gained prominence in the BSE scare of 2003.

Both LMA and R-CALF USA want policy influence with NCBA as well as access to the Beef Board (money) by serving as contractors to conduct research and promotion. They are willing to sacrifice the checkoff to gain their objectives.

Source: High Plains Journal

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