Lawsuit will seek to stop NCBA as a checkoff contractor

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A lawsuit will be filed in federal court today seeking a permanent injunction against the use of beef checkoff funds by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as a contractor. The suit will be filed on behalf of Mike Callicrate, plaintiff, vs the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), and CBB’s operating committee.

The lawsuit was announced at a press conference in Kansas City, MO, prior to the Organization for Competitive Market’s (OCM) annual meeting by OCM president Fred Stokes. The lawsuit seeks an “injunction against the use of beef checkoff funds flowing to NCBA who we deem have misused those funds,” Stokes said. He described the legal action as an effort to “stop the abuses occurring to the beef checkoff.”

Callicrate is the owner of Ranch Foods Direct, a Colorado Springs-based “meat packing facility and local farmer's retail market delivering healthful, high quality, naturally tender meats and foods to consumers direct from the ranch,” according to the firm’s website. He is also an “independent cattle producer, entrepreneur, inventor and political activist.”

Specifically, Callicrate, who serves as vice president of OCM, and Stokes claim a large majority of checkoff funded projects are directed to NCBA acting as a contractor to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The suit alleges that the contracts are awarded to NCBA by the CBB operating committee in which “10 of the 20 seats” are occupied by NBCA members.

Additionally, Stokes believes that many of the projects funded by checkoff dollars are aimed at helping large cattle operations and large corporations rather than smaller, family cattle operations and farmers. He called the actions of the defendants named in the lawsuit “blatant abuses we think are offensive.”

The lawsuit will not seek a temporary injunction, which is often a common request as the legal process unfolds. Rather, the Callicrate lawsuit would mean “business as usual” for both the CBB and NCBA until the court renders a verdict, which Callicrate and OCM hope will be a “permanent injunction.”

Further, sources told Drovers/CattleNetwork that the lawsuit does not seek any monetary award, nor does it request any refund or reimbursement of checkoff funds that have already been allocated for projects conducted by NCBA.

For more information, read Commentary: OCM & HSUS embrace to scuttle checkoff

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Kansas  |  August, 10, 2012 at 09:00 AM

Nothing but a waste of the court systems time. Give me a break.

Michael E. Dikeman    
Manhattan, KS  |  August, 10, 2012 at 09:30 AM

The HSUS is being pulled into this suite as well. This will only cost the beef industry time and money to fight this. Hopefully, some good judge will throw this out!

Nebraska  |  August, 10, 2012 at 10:18 AM

If the NCBA would allow the Federation to separate and stand alone the issuse would be resolved.

ron freeman    
Illinois  |  August, 10, 2012 at 10:44 AM

One needs to be cogniscant of the fact that NCBA only represents a small portion of cattle prodcuers. Something has always been wrong with the process.

Montana  |  August, 10, 2012 at 02:03 PM

The NCBA has been working hard to kill COOL and they take the meat packers side 100% of the time. It's time that beef checkoff goes to some other contractor that supports the U.S. beef industry.

Kansas  |  August, 10, 2012 at 10:49 PM

A WASTE? The waste is to continue promoting the wrongdoing with any of our money.. Did the NCBA misuse funds about a year ago? Did the NCBA have a magazine with 9 pages of Checkoff promotions or ads? Who benefited financially from this? Do you think the USA consumers read that? Do some state affiliates have "shared office staff" for the checkoff and the organization? Follow the money and you will find the corruption! The checkoff should be supporting USA BEEF not sitting in the dark fighting against the best consumer market in the world (the USA). I strongly stand and support Country of Origin Labeling and fixing abuses. If you don't like this you suit, you should first read the history of why it was filed. Most won't be surprised by the abuses of our beef checkoff monies. I am upset that it has to go to court but you can't get the fox out of the hen house by trying to "negotiate" a deal with him... If you don't stand for cleaning up honesty and integrity in the USA, what do you stand for? It is time for a house cleaning!

SD  |  August, 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM

NO, NCBA did NOT misuse checkoff funds. The system of separation between checkoff funds/CBB (money belonging to the national arm of the beef checkoff) from NCBA's POLICY division and the FEDERATION of state beef checkoff division is very complicated to ASSURE that separation. It may not be perfect, but has worked effectively until someone diametrically opposed to the POLICY div. discovered that they could cause problems by 'finding' imaginary abuses. Staff account for time spent on different project in 15 minute increments in order to attribute spending to the proper place. NCBA has NO control over CBB money. The in-house audits find any misplacement and those funds are allocated properly.

SD  |  August, 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Those whining that we have 'lost' cows forget to include the fact that we are producing more POUNDS of beef than ever, with increased management and improved cattle genetics. There may be fewer producers, but FAMILIES still own and operate over 98% of farms and ranches in the USA. Graybull, thanks for posting those links. Not having seen that information before, I plan to buy the book. But, how do you know that NCBA has NOT had anything to do with the author? I don't know that they HAVE, but they have worked with other such promotions, whether as the Policy Div, or via their staff who works for the Federation Div., or the CBB projects. NCBA sticks to the best of science regarding beef and nutrition. It serves us best if we don't risk a mistake and bring the wrath of FDA, consumer groups and others down on the entire cattle/beef industry.

Nebraska  |  August, 14, 2012 at 07:24 AM

It will be interesting to read the evidence from the court record. How may millions of dollars each year are involved?

SD  |  August, 15, 2012 at 01:57 PM

Beef Checkoff administration cannot exceed 5% (I believe, not totally certain of amt.) of income, by law. Originally, their offices were in the NCBA building with costs for actual checkoff uses paid to NCBA in order to save money. Activists wanted the CBB (governing board of national half of the Beef Checkoff dollar per head of US cattle sold, plus the same amount for imported beef sold in the USA) to be housed seperately from NCBA, so that has been done.....and administrative costs may have exceeded the legal amount since then. NCBA does work on contract for the CBB and the Federation of State Beef Councils (funded by some state beef councils with THEIR share of the checkoff dollar). There is NO profit allowed to the contractors. NCBA is not the only contractor. Anyone may submit an authorization request for projects using checkoff dollars. The CBB has been separate from NCBA for several years......what has improved about results in that time? I believe total national CBB income from the checkoff is around $80,000.00. Money cannot be spent to advertise "USA beef" because the importers pay the beef checkoff, too. Ads do not differentiate, since all entities pay the beef checkoff.

SD  |  August, 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Correcting an error in my previous comment: the CBB and Federation of State Beef Councils spend around $80.Million per year. Up to date numbers can be found through your state Beef Council.


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