An agreement between agriculture advocates to raise the beef checkoff is opposed by the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.ICON said Monday they are rejecting a recent proposed agreement by several agricultural groups which, among other things, in effect raises the Beef Checkoff from $1 to $2, or more.
A memorandum of understanding was hammered out by leaders of American Farm Bureau, United States Cattlemen's Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Farmer's Union and other entities and presented to the Cattlemen's Beef Board and the Federation of State Beef Councils for consideration at a recent NCBA convention in Denver, ICON said.
At the meeting, the Cattlemen's Beef Board made a decision to defer a vote on the memorandum until members had a better chance to learn what was actually involved. The CBB was presented with the memorandum only a few minutes before they were asked to vote on it, and Nebraska members Sen. Al Davis and David Wright both spoke strongly against a quick decision.
The Federation of Beef Councils voted to advance the MOU.
“One of my major concerns is the need to treat this as a binding contract and if that is so, members need to vote on this before it is signed,” ICON president Dave Wright said.
Wright also pointed out a recent Cattlemen’s Beef Board study showed the return on the investment of the $1 Beef Checkoff is a little more than $11. He questioned the necessity of the increase and asked proponents of the change to consider if it would be an unnecessary hardship for producers.
One of the guidelines of the memorandum is that regular reviews of the checkoff referendum are not necessary. After a period of 5-10 years, cattle producers may visit their local Farm Service Agency office to request a review, but 10 percent of producers must say they want a referendum. Many FSA offices are closing and in the future, this may become difficult.
ICON’s boards of directors have other concerns, including where the extra assessment dollars will be spent and who will have control over it.
In the past, funds from Beef Checkoff dollars which were used to subsidize such expenditures as salaries, travel and expenses within the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Changes are also included for nominations to the Operating Committee, which could create conflicts of interest for contract decisions.
“Why not return to 1995, before there was a merger forming the NCBA?” Wright asked. “Separate the Federations from the NCBA, and then maybe consider raising the assessment.”