Denver, Colo. – A Nebraska cattle producer has been charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with violating provisions of the Beef Promotion and Research Act and Order by not paying assessments, according to Steve Barratt, director of collections and compliance for the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board.
USDA alleges that John Streiff violated the order by refusing to pay the $1-per-head beef checkoff, Barratt said. The $1 beef checkoff is due on all cattle sold in the U.S. and on all cattle and beef imported into the U.S. Funds collected finance a self-help industry program of promotion, research and information that is administered by the Cattlemen's Beef Board.
Barratt says the charge by USDA represents a last resort to collect checkoff assessments that are due by law. Cattle producers in other states have also been cited for failure to pay the checkoff, and regular efforts by state beef councils – who collect the funds – assure that the vast majority of those who willfully or accidentally fail to pay the assessment comply before the process gets to this level.
According to Barratt, the Cattlemen's Beef Board, the Nebraska Beef Council and USDA were unsuccessful in repeated attempts to prompt John Streiff to comply with the Act. To allow Streiff to evade payment and not face legal action would be unfair to the more than one million other producers who pay the checkoff, Barratt said.
"The fact that there is no free ride in the checkoff – everyone pays – is one of the program's most widely-valued attributes," Barratt said. "All cattle producers who benefit from increased beef demand are required to participate in the program."
USDA's complaint seeks an administrative order requiring Streiff to pay all assessments and late payment charges due, to comply with the order in the future and to pay civil penalties for each violation (each transaction when cattle were sold but where no checkoff was remitted). Failure to comply with the order can result in fines up to $5,500 per violation.
The national beef checkoff was created in the mid-1980s to help build consumer demand for beef, and is administered by the Cattlemen's Beef
Promotion and Research Board. This 110-member board is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee the collection of the $1-per-head checkoff, certify state beef councils, implement the provisions of the Federal Order establishing the checkoff and evaluate the effectiveness of checkoff programs.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association