It wasn’t surprising that the American National CattleWomen (ANCW) recently condemned the lawsuit on the checkoff by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). After all, ANCW is intimately involved with the checkoff and its success, and they work to combat the mission of HSUS on a daily basis.
However, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised that the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) voiced its condemnation of the OCM/HSUS alliance and HSUS’s involvement in an industry lawsuit. Even though this group, which was created following R-CALF’s implosion several years ago, tends to be at odds with the policy positions of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), they obviously recognize that some actions can’t be tolerated. Crawling in bed with one of the industry’s biggest enemies just isn’t acceptable.
Closer Look: OCM, HSUS Team Up To Attack Checkoff
While HSUS recognizes it can significantly damage the industry by harming the national checkoff, it appears the anti-meat group won’t be enjoying the overt support of any cattlemen’s groups in working toward that goal. What’s more, in its pronouncement, USCA seems to be committed to working within the system to effect the changes it wants to see.
Despite all the rhetoric and the constant refrain that NCBA is controlled by packer interests, there also seems to be a growing maturity to industry disagreements. While there certainly is still the radical element on all sides that would sacrifice the industry to achieve specific policy goals, this hopefully signals that there might be a growing realization that we can work together.
There is little doubt that substantive differences on issues exist among these groups, but differences over GIPSA and mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) don’t transcend the love we all have for this industry. In actuality, the differences within the U.S. beef industry are limited to really one or two hot-button issues; perhaps we can put aside internal divisions for the good of all. After all, a vast majority of U.S. beef producers have made it known that they are not in support of partisan differences tearing down the checkoff.
The checkoff has nothing to do with policy, and virtually everyone agrees that the system created is both efficient and effective in building beef demand. While the checkoff has been viewed by a few as a way to wage political battles, the industry clearly has spoken over the last 18 months. The message is that foolish political differences won’t be allowed to destroy a very positive and successful self-help program.
That said, HSUS’s divide-and-conquer strategy appears to have hit a major snag. The industry has observed the type of damage that HSUS can wreak by putting a producer face on the attack, and the industry seems to be speaking almost in unanimity in rejecting the notion of working with HSUS to bring the checkoff down. Perhaps the HSUS aim of using OCM to divide the industry did just the opposite – it united us and shined the light on what and who are truly working in the best interests of the industry.