Tag Archives: Beef Checkoff

 In a recent statement, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) took exception to claims made by R-CALF USA regarding its beef checkoff litigation, calling those claims “phony allegations.”
R-CALF USA’s CEO Bill Bullard stated in their Nov. 5, 2018 news release that state beef councils were sending about $10 million in checkoff funds each year directly to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a political lobbying group, to fund the NCBA Federation of State Beef Councils (NCBA Federation), and those monies are not subject to the same fiscal controls imposed on the national checkoff program’s Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB).
‘By redirecting their money to the CBB rather than to their state beef councils, cattle producers can reduce the amount of money now flowing to the NCBA under the group’s pay-to-play scheme, which we believe is a form of money laundering,’ Bullard stated.
Bullard says there is nothing at all phony about his allegations. Referencing the NCBA Federation of State Beef Councils 2017 Investor Report (NCBA Report), Bullard said it is clear that in 2017 state beef councils sent over $10.5 million in producer checkoff dollars not to the CBB-controlled beef checkoff program; but rather, to the NCBA Federation, with over $145,000 of those dollars earmarked specifically for the NCBA.
According to a beef checkoff-sponsored slide presentation, the NCBA Federation makes its own independent financial decisions, meaning its decisions regarding where they spend their money are not subject to the fiscal controls imposed on the CBB under the national beef checkoff program.
“What we believe is a form of money laundering is the NCBA Federation’s pay-to-play scheme which is described in the NCBA Federation Division Investment Schedule (NCBA Schedule). Unlike the CBB whose representation is based on the number of cattle in each state, representation on the NCBA Federation is based on how much money the state beef councils send to the NCBA. According to the NCBA Schedule, even states with small numbers of cattle must pay 10 percent of the checkoff payments they collect from producers if they want any representation at all on the NCBA Federation.
The NCBA Schedule also shows the top 15 cattle producing states, several of which are now included in R-CALF USA’s beef checkoff case, each pay $32,000 to the NCBA for their first three seats on the NCBA Federation. Based on the NCBA Schedule and the NCBA Report, those states must then pay about $263,000 each for their fourth and fifth seats and $526,000 for their sixth seat. Then, if a state sends the NCBA $1 million or more, it is entitled to a leadership position on the NCBA Executive Committee.
Three of the states now in R-CALF USA’s beef checkoff case paid the NCBA more than $1 million to buy representation on the NCBA’s Executive Committee.
“This looks like a classic case of money laundering to us,” Bullard said adding, “The NCBA is free to admit or deny these allegations and the facts we are presenting but it certainly looks crystal clear to us.”
“If we prevail in our lawsuit, producers will be able to choose if they want their money flowing to the NCBA, which lobbies in favor of corporate interests over independent producer interests, or to the national beef checkoff program’s CBB,” he added.
In a recent audit conducted by the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG), the OIG stated “we could not determine that all (beef checkoff) funds were collected, distributed, and expended in accordance with the Act and the Order.”
“This does not provide adequate assurance to independent cattle producers that their hard-earned money is not being deflected by the NCBA and used for inappropriate purposes and that’s why we want to give producers the option to choose where they want their money to go,” Bullard concluded.
The federal district court in Montana granted R-CALF USA’s motion to expand its beef checkoff program lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include at least 13 states in addition to Montana.
The district court in Montana previously granted, and the appellate court recently upheld, a preliminary injunction temporarily stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from violating the U.S. Constitution by compelling cattle producers in Montana to pay for the private speech of the private Montana Beef Council without first obtaining consent from producers.
R-CALF USA requested the court to expand the case to include these additional states in which producers are similarly required to pay for the private speech of their respective private beef councils without their consent.
Today’s ruling on R-CALF USA’s motion does not apply the temporary injunction in effect in Montana to the additional states. Instead, it allows R-CALF USA to proceed with its original case in which it seeks a permanent injunction against the USDA for violating the Constitution. If successful, the permanent injunction would likely cover cattle producers in each of the new states.
The court granted the USDA 14 days to file an answer to R-CALF USA’s complaint and the case now proceeds with the additional states.
Under the preliminary injunction in effect in Montana, cattle producers can individually decide if they want half the mandatory assessments collected from them to be spent by the private Montana Beef Council or all of it sent to the beef checkoff program’s Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), where it is subject to governmental fiscal controls.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the state beef councils have been sending about $10 million in checkoff funds each year directly to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a political lobbying group, to fund that group’s Federation of State Beef Councils, and those monies are not subject to the same fiscal controls imposed on the CBB.
“By redirecting their money to the CBB rather than to their state beef councils, cattle producers can reduce the amount of money now flowing to the NCBA under the group’s pay-to-play scheme, which we believe is a form of money laundering,” said Bullard.
Bullard added that if R-CALF USA’s lawsuit is successful, cattle producers in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin will all have their constitutional rights protected and will no longer be compelled to subsidize private or corporate speech.
Attorneys for R-CALF USA include lead counsel David Muraskin, a Food Project Attorney at Public Justice, J. Dudley Butler, of the Farm and Ranch Law Group, and Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Law, P.C. in Missoula, Montana.