Just a few days ago, the Ag Marketing Service proposed a rule change that would greatly expand the number of organizations that could do business with the beef checkoff. The old rule set a 1985 date – “active and ongoing” after that date? OK. Otherwise, you had to press your nose against the glass and wistfully wish you could get in on the game.
The new rule would open the door to many more organizations, in effect introducing more of a free market situation to what some might call a staid and true group of good friends going back over 25 years. J.D. Alexander, the new president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, quickly issued a press release that enthusiastically backed the proposal.
Changes to the status quo are not easily accepted by most groups, especially to cattlemen who tend to be conservative minded people who like to move forward carefully and with due consideration. I wondered why the NCBA was so quick to voice approval so I posed a few questions to Mr. Alexander.
Q. The NCBA is supporting an Agricultural Marketing Service proposal that would expand the contracting authority as established under the Beef Promotion and Research (Order) by eliminating the requirement that only allows organizations active and ongoing since 1985 to contract with the checkoff. NCBA is a long time contractor of the beef checkoff and this proposal could bring a lot more competition to the forefront. Why the support? What advantages does it bring to the table?
A. NCBA’s policy is set by all dues paying members. Our grassroots policy process is truly producer-driven. Almost all national policy is a product of county or state cattlemen’s meetings and worked its way up to the national scale. This policy is no different. Our policy supports five very specific modifications to the Beef Checkoff Program. The policy position that guided us to support this rule states: “Any reference to the charter date of an established national non-profit industry governed organization should be eliminated.” For years, we have provided a very professional staff to carry out the wishes of the Operating Committee and also provide progressive ideas towards demand building. We welcome the possible competition, which will simply make our people work even harder. This will also assure producers are getting the best return on their checkoff dollar as the operating committee chooses the best contractor for various authorization requests.