Will your state be the next beef checkoff target?

With success in mucking up Montana’s beef checkoff, industry malcontents are now targeting Oklahoma.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

October 25, 2017

2 Min Read
Will your state be the next beef checkoff target?

It’s likely that many beef producers outside Oklahoma won’t remember last year’s election, where Question 777, an effort to establish a right-to-farm law in the Sooner State, was defeated. Ag groups went head to head with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and were outspent and outshouted in the campaign to protect the rights of agricultural producers in the state.

That bit of history brings us to this week, when the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and R-CALF USA announced that  Oklahoma members of the two groups joined together to file with the Oklahoma Supreme Court an application for original jurisdiction requesting the court enter a declaratory judgement and prohibit the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry from certifying the Oklahoma beef producer referendum on a state-wide beef checkoff program according to a joint news release from the two organizations. You can read the news release here.

The connection between last year’s effort and this lawsuit? The same lawyer who led the opposition to Question 777 is representing OCM and R-CALF in this lawsuit.

That should put an arch in any thinking person’s eyebrows.

Just so there isn’t any confusion, BEEF has supported the beef checkoff from the very beginning. I went to work at the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in 1985, just as the effort went into gear that brought us our present $1-per-head national beef checkoff. In a small way, I helped campaign for passage of the referendum and take pride in the fact that we were able to implement a self-help program that has done a remarkable job in keeping beef on consumers’ plate.

That’s why it saddens me to see groups like OCM and R-CALF try to destroy a program that has done so much good for the entire beef business. And all because they want to ultimately destroy NCBA. As I’ve said before, I don’t understand that kind of hate. 

Oklahoma ag groups reacted strongly to the lawsuit. In a joint statement, Oklahoma agriculture said, “The Oklahoma agriculture community is confident in the process used by Oklahoma cattle producers and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture in preparation for the upcoming referendum. We stand against an effort led by radical activist organizations and their anti-agriculture agenda.”

So too, I suspect, do a majority of beef producers not just in Oklahoma but around the country.

This effort to deny Oklahoma beef producers the right to vote on a state-led beef checkoff program is flat out un-American. Beef producers who care about the future of our business should find the action disgusting.

So here’s the question: If this effort is successful in Oklahoma, will your state be next? Will you be denied your constitutional rights by a small group of malcontents who are willing to sell out the entire beef business?

Let’s all join the majority of beef producers in Oklahoma and encourage a “yes” vote on Nov.1.


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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