click image to zoom I’m sure everyone knows what the ‘controversy’ is by now. It’s been in all the papers as they used to say when there were papers. Today, in a world where communication is dominated by the internet and anybody with a laptop can issue a manifesto of any kind, the discussion about the firewall that’s supposed to stand between the NCBA and CBB has gone viral. Fanning the firewall flames into something akin to the Arizona wildfires this spring were accusations about financial improprieties.
The controversy has had a bit of an ebb and flow to it. Seems like every time the fire starts to go out, someone tosses fuel on what I thought were dying embers. A few weeks ago an angry Jon Wooster, president of USCA, issued a strongly worded editorial demanding that the problems be examined by a higher authority. Although I don’t think USDA Secretary Vilsack is quite ready to take on the cattle industries various political facets, he certainly has the ability to end the controversy immediately.
Capping off a relatively peaceful Summer Conference, Bill Donald, NCBA’s president, told the audience during closing remarks that he wasn’t going to ‘put up with that crap anymore.’ Obviously tired of the ongoing controversy and the time it was taking away from the duties and responsibilities of both the NCBA and CBB during one of the most critical times in recent beef industry history, he tossed a big gauntlet.
“Can we either shut up or step out back and settle this thing ‘mano a mano?”
OK, I said that. He didn’t. But it was the core of the message. ‘Let’s put on our big boy hats and gitterdone!’ We don’t need a gunfight at OK Corral, just some plain talk and a handshake at the end. So I asked Bill a few questions and here is how he responded.
Q. It has been a hard year for the relationship between the NCBA and CBB. There have been lots of accusations and rumors of financial misdealings that some would take to a more serious level. Now the USCA and R-CALF want to make a federal case out of it. Let’s start with the personnel issues. One of the fallouts of the clash was the resignations of CBB’s top two officers a few weeks ago. NCBA was accused of engineering the resignations. What really happened?
A. A State Beef Council contacted us regarding potential unethical behavior against the Federation of State Beef Councils and NCBA by people in the industry. We immediately consulted with our attorney. About the same time we had been contacted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) about their audit of the beef checkoff, they gave us the parameters of the audit. They described it as a “performance audit,” which is more detailed than a financial audit. They are looking into every aspect of the checkoff and the work done for it. They told us a performance audit will study the work that has been done to insure it meets the direction of the Beef Promotion Research Act and Order and that the work was done in a proper and ethical fashion.