R-CALF responds to Beef Checkoff ruling

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Last week, the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an audit report essentially clearing the Beef Board and NCBA of any violations of laws regulating checkoff spending, and soon after, R-CALF USA called the report a “colossal whitewash."

The dispute dates back to 2010, when an audit uncovered significant accounting errors and misappropriation of checkoff funds at NCBA totaling over $200,000 – money intended for checkoff contracts but spent on activities the audit determined should have been paid for by NCBA membership dues. The issue caused quite a rift between some Beef Board and NCBA officers at the time. But after NCBA reviewed its accounts, admitted the errors, agreed to refund the money and tighten the “firewall” between checkoff and dues-funded programs, the groups made up, and USDA accepted their plan to resolve the issue.

R-CALF, however, was not satisfied and called on USDA to freeze all checkoff accounts managed or controlled by NCBA, suspend the checkoff contract between NCBA and the CBB and conduct an investigation into the matter.

The OIG conducted their audit, and “determined that the relationship between the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (beef board) and other industry-related organizations, including the beef board’s primary contractor, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), complied with legislation.” The OIG report goes on to say investigators found no evidence of misuse of funds, saying checkoff money was collected, distributed and expended in accordance with the legislation.”

In response, R-CALF sent an April 5 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong, calling the report a "colossal whitewash of monumental proportions." The group also accused USDA of corruption. “Only within an agency fraught with corruption and cronyism can a conclusive finding that the NCBA had improperly charged the beef checkoff fund hundreds of thousands of dollars nevertheless result in a conclusion by USDA that NCBA is guilty of no wrong doing. The agency’s pronouncement that such is the case defies any semblance of logic, impartiality and credibility.”

 R-CALF USA urged USDA to denounce the OIG report as a colossal political sham and whitewash; to permanently suspend the NCBA's eligibility as a checkoff contractor; to require a complete separation between the NCBA and the Federation of State Beef Councils; to clarify that no lobbying group is eligible to contract for beef checkoff funds; and, to amend the beef checkoff program so the CBB can contract directly to carry out beef checkoff programs.

Read the full text of the R-CALF complaint.

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Missouri  |  April, 10, 2013 at 09:34 AM

It seems like everywhere I look I hear about two groups bickering. If it isn't the democrats and republicans, it is NCBA and R-CALF. Our whole country appears to be divided right down the middle on every issue. I don't understand why folks with different views can't give a little and work out some kind of compromise that will help both sides instead of insisting their views are the only right ones. It gets really old. :o(

Tom Neff    
SWMO  |  April, 10, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Once you get used to living off the sweat of someone elses back.........I am a little sick and tired of seeing MY hard earned money thrown (saying it politely) away without any accountablility. How hard is it - do the right thing and everyone is happy. Just because you are in the position doesn't mean you get to take the cream.

Ken Martin    
Missouri  |  April, 10, 2013 at 11:25 AM

no lobbying group, NCBA or R-Calf or whomever, should be able to contract for checkoff money. Simple to grasp. CBB's should be the body to award checkoff funds.

Iowa  |  April, 10, 2013 at 12:40 PM

The problem goes back when the 2 organizations merged. 1 group the CBB had all the money, the other, National Cattleman was basically broke. I laughed then what a joke that merger was. In fact they couldn't even decide on a decent name. National Cattleman's Beef Association??? Was it supposed to be the National Cattleman's Pork Association for gosh sake. when you have 1 group making, (collecting), all the money and basically 1 group spending it all you are going to have big problems. That being said R Calf can go over the top but I also understand their watch dog status. And yes I am a member of both groups.

Wyoming  |  April, 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Simply and well put.

Colorado  |  April, 10, 2013 at 02:31 PM

In reviewing posted comments as well as reading the letter sent by Bill Bullard/RCALF'S, 2 things are apparent. First, there is prevailing by many a complete ignorance of how the Checkoff may and does legally operate. Secondly, Mr. Bullard and his organization have established this fight as a means of an attempt to either damage, or discredit NCBA or both. This all at the risk of cutting off their nose to spite their face. It quite literally would take an entire newspaper edition to deconstruct all the misquoted and incorrect assertions made by Mr. Bullard. The bottom line is, they have an invitation to participate in the proceedings of the beef Checkoff, but I suspect that by doing so would expose the weaknesses of their actions, and many statements. My challenge to the many readers is this, if you have any misgivings about the beef check off, go to the horses mouth, the Cattlemen's Beef Board, and pose those issues directly to them.

UTAH  |  April, 10, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Bud is on the right track

April, 10, 2013 at 11:32 PM

R Calf and Bill Bullard are angry??????? Shocking, shocking I tell you!

Colorado  |  April, 14, 2013 at 07:38 PM

Well put Bud! I concure.

Kansas  |  April, 15, 2013 at 08:37 PM

Any misappropriation of funds should get someone fired as well as the boards who are to oversee it. For those who don't think NCBA does no wrong, I personally have a NCBA year end magazine that has 7 ads or promotions "PAID FOR OR SPONSORED BY THE BEEF CHECKOFF". Now if that don't raise your eye you need help. Price a full page ad in the NCBA magazine and please report back to the rest of us as to what laundering cost. It has been going on for YEARS and until we get a complete split it will continue. Personally I would rather promote the USA cattle industry than that of the global competition and imports of cattle and beef into the USA. Some producers will just never get it as to why this country is in a mess in D.C.. The lies of imports is just that! If you don't support our USA cattle and beef industries maybe you should catch the next plane out of here! I like this country! Want to fix it? Tell the good ole boys club to promote USA cattle and beef with our own money and tell those that don't like it to take a hike!

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