North Dakota groups discuss ND Beef Commission composition
Four livestock organizations met Aug. 16, 2021, to discuss the makeup of the North Dakota Beef Commission.
The Beef Commission is charged with oversight of Beef Checkoff dollars including half of the mandatory federal dollar, and the entire state checkoff dollar.
An interim legislative committee has been asked to look into the board’s makeup after a bill to make the state beef checkoff voluntary almost passed the North Dakota House of Representatives this spring, and many witnesses during a committee hearing commented on the board’s appointment protocol.
The nine-member North Dakota Beef Commission, by law, is composed of:
4 members of the North Dakota Stockmen (three producers, 1 feeder)
1 member of the milk producers association
1 member of the livestock marketing association and
3 at large members
Currently, all three of the at large members on the board are directly involved in the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) and/or the North Dakota CattleWomen, which is an auxiliary to the NDSA.
State law requires that each member of the commission except the auction market representative “must be a participating producer,” which is defined as being “actively engaged,” meaning the individual “1. has an ownership interest in an operation that is of sufficient scope and significance as to constitute a distinct activity and 2. Has and regularly exercises direct control of the operation.”
The North Dakota legislative council told TSLN that there is no official definition of what a “distinct activity” means in this case. The governor’s office has not responded to TSLN’s questions about whether or not the governor confirms that nominees meet these qualifications when their names are submitted for nomination.
According to Frank Tomac, the Vice President of the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, the meeting included representatives from his organization as well as the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, the North Dakota Farm Bureau and the North Dakota Farmers Union, as well as the North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring and North Dakota Senator Randy Lemm, Hillsboro, who was appointed the chairman of the interim ag committee that will look into the NDBC board makeup, among a variety of other ag-related issues.
I-BAND would like to see several changes made to the law that oversees the state beef commission, said Tomac.
They would like to see a board that is made up of representatives from the four main livestock organizations in the state (those in attendance at the meeting) as well as a livestock auction barn representative and possibly a feeder representative.
They would also like for the law to require that cattle producers only be eligible to sit on the board if they derive a certain percentage of their income from the cattle industry. He isn’t sure what that percentage is, but he said he believes board members should be cattle producers first and foremost and he believes this impacts their decision making process on how the Beef Checkoff dollars should be spent.
IBAND believes that the law also ought to be updated to allow cattle owners who request their state checkoff refund to be eligible to sit on the board because each cattle producer contributes financially to the program through the federal checkoff program (of which the state maintains half of each dollar) even if the producer requests state checkoff refunds.
Jeff Schafer, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association president said that he also attended the meeting. He said there was a lot of discussion at the meeting. His organization at this time doesn’t have policy to seek changes to the law that oversees the ND Beef Commission.
The NDSA convention will be Sept. 23-25 in Fargo, and Schafer believes the topic will likely be discussed then.
He said his group will keep an eye on the legislative committee discussions and see if amendments are proposed. “The review process is going to be coming up. If there are changes that need to be made, maybe that will come through the review process.”
The interim legislative committee is expected to meet Oct. 7, 2021, in Bismarck.
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