USCA requests clarification on Beef Checkoff lobbying
July 12, 2016
The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) sent a letter this week to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) on recent lobbying efforts regarding the national beef checkoff program. The letter, sent ahead of this year's NCBA Summer Meeting, asks for clarification on work done by NCBA to limit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests specific to the beef checkoff program.
During Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations discussions earlier this year, NCBA worked to insert language to the FY2017 spending bill that would restrict any FOIA requests on the checkoff program.
USCA specifically asks why the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group (BCEWG) was not included in any conversations leading up to this action. The BCEWG was convened in recent years to address concerns within the checkoff program. Industry stakeholders met multiple times to review the program and needed revisions; their inclusion in this recent action was warranted.
USCA President Danni Beer commented on the issue, "USCA recognizes the negative effects of FOIA requests by special interest groups against checkoff programs. However, as the program is under oversight of USDA-AMS, it is a form of government speech and therefore open to scrutiny. USCA asks that industry be included in any discussions specifically regarding the program moving forward. The checkoff is the producer's program and must be directed by all producers, not just one entity."
"USCA will continue to work to ensure common sense based approaches and solutions to the program are done via amendments and the legislative process. USCA remains a strong supporter of the Beef Checkoff and is committed to its long-term success and ability to work for all U.S. cattle producers."