Stomprud: Checkoff Lawsuit Will Hamper Local Control

Larry Stomprud
President, S.D. Cattlemen’s Association

As a beef producer in South Dakota, I’m incensed by R-CALF’s latest assault on the beef checkoff. Through their latest lawsuit, R-CALF has already silenced the voices of our Montana colleagues when it comes to deciding how their checkoff monies will be spent. Now R-CALF is proposing to amend that lawsuit and include other states with beef councils that are structured similar to Montana’s, including the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.

Make no mistake, the beef checkoff is still mandatory and it’s still being collected in Montana. Unfortunately, Montana beef producers no longer have a voice through their state beef council in determining how the collected funds will be utilized to build beef demand. That notion is offensive to this South Dakotan, where we value local control.

The Board of Directors of the South Dakota Beef Industry Council is made up of representatives from eight producer organizations, including: SD Beef Breeds Council, SD Cattlemen’s Auxiliary, SD CattleWomen, SD Cattlemen’s Association, SD Farm Bureau, SD Livestock Auction Markets, SD Stockgrowers, and SD Farmer’s Union. Through these organizations, our state’s cattlemen and women can directly impact how beef checkoff funds are utilized within the state and also nationally and internationally.

What’s especially disappointing about this situation, though, is that R-CALF has chosen to align themselves with an activist law firm with ties to HSUS and PETA, at the expense of hard working cattlemen and women who support and pay the checkoff. How can R-CALF claim to be working on behalf of cattlemen, while relying on the work and support of individuals whose stated goal is to eliminate livestock agriculture? R-CALF’s law firm, Public Justice, is staffed by former PETA and HSUS employees and the firm has litigated many issues that are counter to the interests of agricultural producers. No doubt, Public Justice is laughing all the way to the courthouse.

As a beef producer, I strongly support the beef checkoff and history has demonstrated I’m in the majority. According to a Cattlemen’s Beef Board survey from January 2018, about 74 percent of producers approve of the checkoff. In addition, the checkoff adds to my bottom line. A Cornell University study commissioned by the CBB in 2014 clearly indicates a strong return on our producer investments, returning $11.20 in profit to producers for every $1 invested.

We can’t afford to put the beef checkoff at risk over petty political differences. It’s our industry’s self-help program – funded and directed BY beef producers, FOR beef producers. Please tell R-CALF to stop undermining our broad, grass-roots driven program that conducts beef education and promotion activities to the benefit of ALL cattlemen and women.

— Larry Stomprud

President of S.D. Cattlemen’s Association