FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(March 13, 2015)
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WICHITA, Kan. (March 13, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said that ongoing conversations about how to improve the beef checkoff have again failed to lead to greater producer comfort with how the checkoff is handled and strongly opposed the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group (BCEWG) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the checkoff that was agreed upon today.
“Since the very beginning of this process several years ago, NFU has hoped that these ongoing discussions would lead to a beef checkoff program that was not controlled by a single policy organization and focused its resources primarily on research and promotion instead of lobbying,” said Johnson. “When it became clear that these changes would never happen, NFU withdrew from the process altogether.”
Johnson’s comments were made at the conclusion of a two-day meeting that sought a consensus memorandum of understanding among cattle producers about how to move forward with meaningful and needed enhancements in the beef checkoff program. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association has refused to sign the MOU. Two major groups representing cattlemen, NFU and USCA, have either left the BCEWG or refused to sign the MOU. The BCEWG has failed to reach consensus on a path forward for the beef checkoff.
The MOU fails to make revisions that would result in reform for the way the checkoff operates. The MOU also proposes a refundable increase in the assessment of $1. It also allows for national lobbying organizations that are major recipients of checkoff dollars to be on the nominating committee for the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC). The BPOC decides who receives contracts for checkoff dollars. This creates a clear conflict of interest for the checkoff.
Johnson pointed out that NFU’s vision for the beef checkoff would ensure that control of the program is held by producers who are actively involved in production agriculture; would exclusively promote domestic product; would exclude processors from positions of leadership and financial responsibility, and would review referendums executed by USDA every five years offering a program recall in the event of a simple majority vote; and would prohibit.
“The MOU is honestly a waste of everyone’s time because it will fail to achieve the real reforms that need to be made,” said Johnson.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.