National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement yesterday regarding the future direction of the beef checkoff:

“NFU is very appreciative and supportive of the Secretary’s efforts to modernize the current beef checkoff program. The current system is badly broken and has lost the trust of many of the beef producers it purports to represent. Clearly there are major concerns from family farmers and ranchers across the nation about the issue of having two checkoffs operating simultaneously, and we share those concerns.

“There is one major barrier to bringing about real and meaningful change to the beef checkoff and that is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which consumes nearly 98 percent of checkoff funds. In fact, on the very day that comments were due to USDA about how to reform the checkoff program, NCBA lobbied to have a rider attached to a spending bill protecting the status quo.

“Of course, that came as no surprise to anyone. NFU will continue to advocate for a new direction for the beef checkoff under the 1996 commodity promotion law, including separation of the lobbying organization from the non-political, promotional checkoff entities, just like the models embraced by the other checkoff programs. Additionally, we will work to ensure there is a single checkoff program that expands markets and invests in meaningful research, education and promotion for the good of the entire industry.”