Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met earlier this week with the Beef Checkoff working group and reportedly told them he’s planning on implementing a new checkoff program for the industry by January, 2016. The action would be taken under the 1996 Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act, also called the “generic checkoff act,” and would be separate from and in addition to the current program.
Representatives of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) held a lengthy press conference Friday afternoon to express concerns about this plan of action. NCBA CEO Forrest Roberts says the secretary told them “there would be an opportunity for all stakeholders in the beef industry to provide comments on this new order over the course of the next several months.” Roberts says Vilsack made this decision because he felt the working group had not come up with a solution and this “was not the approach he wanted to take.”
NCBA immediate past president Scott George of Wyoming said he was surprised by the secretary’s proposal and said fellow producers he has talked with are also shocked by the idea of setting up a second, separate checkoff for beef. “This seems like a major step that really doesn’t need to be taken,” said George. “Our members are not supportive of any enhancement to the checkoff program that is based on the ’96 generic act,” added NCBA president Bob McCan of Texas.
Roberts confirmed that there were members of the Beef Checkoff Working Group not in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday. “The members of the working group that were not invited to the meeting with the secretary were Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils,” he said, adding that they have been very involved in the group for the past three years. In addition to NCBA, organizations that were represented at the meeting included American Farm Bureau Federation, Livestock Marketing Association, National Farmers Union, and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.
Speaking were NCBA president Bob McCan, NCBA immediate past president Scott George, and NCBA CEO Forrest Roberts. NCBA press call on Beef Checkoff