Most everyone is excited that, as an industry, we seem to have put the checkoff debate behind us and are moving forward. I think most everyone is also in agreement that the divergence was always about political agendas and that there are still some who want to keep the debate alive.
Among these is apparently the National Farmers Union (NFU), which took a final shot in its efforts to resurrect the battle by passing a special order of business that would remove the cap that keeps administrative costs of the program to 5%. That measure would presumably allow the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to conduct more activities on its own and not work with contractors to the extent it has in the past.
The resolution called for amendments to the Beef Act & Order, which also would limit the amount of any funds going to any contractor at 50%, or to employ or pay any portion of salary to someone employed by a policy organization. In essence, NFU is trying to sever the relationship between the national beef checkoff and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In addition, the resolution calls for a referendum every two years.
A lot of producers have expressed anger that these issues weren’t raised at the September stakeholder meeting, which NFU attended. Instead, NFU opted for more behind-the-back political gamesmanship of the type everyone was hoping to avoid.
The stakeholder organizations appear committed to moving forward with the recommendations brought out and discussed openly at the meeting in an effort to not only better coordinate information about the checkoff but to improve it. It would allow for more eligible contractors.
The Federation of State Beef Councils also adopted a charter that gives it more independence. With producer support of the checkoff at the highest levels in 18 years, it appears the checkoff is on solid footing and moving forward.
It appears that nearly everyone sees the futility of politicizing the checkoff and using the program as some sort of political football. It’s heartening to see the industry move forward, and it appears producers are committed to avoiding the fiasco that occurred and has been rectified.
Let everyone play their politics in the political realm. While NFU is an organization that carries clout, it appears there’s little desire among the masses to keep the political infighting going.