Vilsack won’t create new beef checkoff | TSLN.com

Vilsack won’t create new beef checkoff

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture said he has decided not to pursue a secondary beef checkoff. Staff photo

Instead of creating a second checkoff assessment, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack intends to allow the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group to keep working toward a common solution, said the Nebraska Cattlemen in a Dec. 19, e-mail statement. The just-approved national appropriations package included a policy rider prohibiting him from working toward his previous goal of implementing a new beef checkoff.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and their affiliates have opposed the introduction of secondary beef checkoff since Sec. Vilsack announced Sept. 30, that he would attempt to create one.

President Bob McCan said the organization remains committed to the collaborative industry-led effort underway to address the issue.

"We greatly appreciate Secretary Vilsack's action, allowing the industry stakeholders to continue working together to enhance the Beef Checkoff Program," said McCan in the news release. "…we will continue to work with the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group and our members to enhance the program while building on that support."

R-CALF USA, in a news release the same day, said Vilsack, in news reports, criticized U.S. cattle producers for failing to agree on how the national Beef Checkoff Program should be reformed and he claimed that everyone in the industry agrees that the national Beef Checkoff Program needs more money. The Montana-based group has also spoken against the creation of another checkoff.

"Secretary Vilsack is wrong to blame U.S. cattle producers for his failure to reform the beef checkoff program and his claim that everyone in the industry wants to increase the checkoff fee is baseless," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

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The group's comments submitted in response to the Federal Register notice state that after a decade of inaction by USDA to correct the abuses, corruption and conflicts of interest within the current national Beef Checkoff Program, members of R-CALF USA, which is the nation's largest producer-only cattle trade organization, voted overwhelmingly to urge Congress to repeal the program.