Animal rights activists attack beef producers through legislation
Animal rights groups are using misdirection to infiltrate the U.S. livestock industry by utilizing the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act to help reform the federal checkoff system.
During an episode of the Beltway Beef podcast, dated May 18, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Chief Executive Officer Colin Woodall sits down to discuss the attack on the Beef Checkoff by animal rights activists through the OFF Act and explains how the Beef Checkoff supports cattle producers and strengthens the industry.
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill and is a producer-directed program, in which activities and investments are overseen by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) with oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Qualified State Beef Councils (QSBC) retain one-half of each dollar collected for marketing and research programs in each state and for other programs identified by the board.
The Beef Checkoff focuses on demand for beef, and the program has increased demand for beef at an estimated rate of return of $11.91 for every dollar invested in the program, according to the USDA’s latest economic evaluation, conducted by Cornell University.
Woodall states, “The checkoff program promotes industry research, consumer education, marketing and promotion efforts. The Beef Checkoff educates cattle ranchers on implementing innovative animal welfare and conservation practices, leading to long-term sustainability for the industry.”
Regardless of false claims from supporters of the OFF Act, the Beef Checkoff is strongly supported by cattle producers and receives generous support from CBB and USDA.
Additionally, NCBA has represented America’s cattle producers since 1898, preserving the heritage and strength of the industry through education and public policy.
U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Lee (R-UT), joined by U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and Dina Titus (D-NV), have introduced the OFF Act to make checkoff programs more accountable and transparent.
Supporters of the OFF Act say it’s about reform and protecting family ranches and farms, but according to Woodall, this is completely false – it is not about program accountability but about animal activists attacking beef producers.
“The OFF Act stipulates checkoff program funds should not be used for lobbying or to disparage other agricultural commodities, you can’t do that with the checkoff today,” states Woodall.
The newly introduced act states financials of the checkoff should be published so producers can look at them. Woodall notes anyone can go to CBB’s website to find their financials.
The new legislation also outlines the checkoff should be allowed to be investigated or audited by the office’s inspector general.
“If all of this stuff is already happening, why are they implementing an act that will waste tax payers’ dollars? Because, it is an attack on the checkoff program by animal activist groups,” says Woodall.
Woodall also shares the OFF Act is part of a larger effort to slow down meat consumption.
“These groups of animal activists figure the best way to hurt us is to make it harder for us to do what we do. In all honesty, when we look at this strategy of the checkoff in the OFF Act, it shows the checkoff is extremely successful because we have been able to build some great beef demand with checkoff programs,” he says.
Beef Promotion Operating Committee
The Beef Promotion Operating Committee operates under CBB and is responsible for developing the annual budget, developing programs in areas of promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications.
According to the Beef Checkoff’s website, the committee includes 10 producers elected by CBB and 10 producers elected by the Federation of State Beef Councils. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee also contracts with national, nonprofit, industry-governed organizations to implement Beef Checkoff programs.
However, proponents of the OFF Act claim the new bill would prevent checkoff funds from being used for lobbying, something already prohibited by the existing federal law governing the Beef Checkoff.
“What the OFF Act does is decrease beef research and efforts vital to the success of ranchers and the beef industry,” Woodall concludes.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.