NCBA suspends discussion in light of CBB motion
“Our NCBA officers and producer leaders who have worked hard to improve NCBA’s governance structure have decided to suspend discussions about governance changes, so that the Federation of State Beef Councils can clarify its roles and its wishes,” said Powell beef and dairy producer and National Beef Federation Division Chair Scott George on June 23.
On June 22 the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Executive Committee released its approved motion calling for the Federation of State Beef Councils to be a “strong, independent checkoff entity” that should be “separate from any policy organization.”
The Federation of State Beef Councils is the body that develops and executes a coordinated checkoff plan to build and protect beef demand at the state and national level.
According to information from CBB, acting on a request from the USDA the CBB Executive Committee unanimously approved a motion recommending separation of the Federation and NCBA. The motion states: “The Federation should be a strong, independent, checkoff entity. The Federation should be separate from any policy organization, since all funds for the checkoff come from mandatory assessments of producers and importers. The checkoff is owned by, and responsible to, all producers and importers, and no specific organization. It is not the intent of the Executive Committee that this motion has any effect on the structure of state beef councils.”
Among others, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) supports the action, calling it a “step towards enhancing the beef checkoff and making it more responsive to all producers.”
In March 2010, USCA and five other ag organizations sent a joint letter to USDA expressing concerns about NCBA’s proposed governance structure model and its impact on the structure and function of the Federation of State Beef Councils. Following the letter, on May 17 Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent a letter to NCBA outlining his concerns with the group’s proposed governance changes, many of which correlated with the issues brought forward by the industry groups.
“We believe delaying the discussion about our governance is not only the right thing to do for our state partners, it is also essential,” said George of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) plans to change its governance structure, which were announced Fall 2009 and approved Winter 2010. Three committees have worked through the spring, and finalization of the new structure was expected at NCBA’s summer meeting in July.
Washington State Beef Commission Executive Director Patti Brumbach says for the Federation to effectively continue building beef demand and addressing critical industry issues, delaying NCBA’s governance discussions is necessary until the CBB and other “vocal” industry groups fully understand the role and wishes of the Federation.
“USCA applauds the CBB Executive Committee for its action to recommend a complete separation between NCBA and the Federation of State Beef Councils,” says USCA President Chuck Kiker. “The CBB, which is charged with oversight of the Federation, has sent a clear and distinct message that a Federation independent of any policy organization is in the best interest of all checkoff paying producers and importers.”
“An opportunity is at hand to reform the checkoff in a manner that will allow the program to prosper and gain even more support and trust in the country,” continues Kiker. “Separating the Federation from policy organizations is a big step towards bringing the checkoff program into the new age. It’s important now for industry groups and individual producers to voice their support for the CBB by writing letters to USDA and to the CBB expressing their feelings.”
According to George, NCBA is not turning its back on revising its governance structure, but rather is turning its attention to U.S. producers to ensure a governance structure is developed that fosters unity within the industry.
“It was clear to us as leaders that controversy around NCBA’s governance proposal was getting in the way of an accurate discussion about the federation,” continued George.
“We want to do this right. The Federation effectively represents all cattle producers paying into the checkoff,” said George. “Quite frankly, it is impossible to do so when there is so much controversy driving a divide within the industry. We have critical issues affecting this industry that requires us to be united, not divided. We are calling a timeout to clarify our role and wishes to all shareholders.”
“We are in no way calling into question the quality of work produced, but because of increased input from industry organizations about the structure of the Federation as a division of a membership organization, we believe the Federation of State Beef Councils should exist independently,” says CBB Executive Committee Chairman Tom Jones. “As NCBA looks at restructuring its organization, we believe a stronger Federation should be the cornerstone to any changes.”
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.