NFU Delegates Pass Special Order Calling for Beef Checkoff Reform

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Delegates to the 110th anniversary convention of the National Farmers Union being held at La Vista, Neb., have passed a special order of business calling for major changes in the national beef checkoff program. The special order originated from South Dakota Farmers Union which passed a similar measure last month at its state convention.

“It’s encouraging to see that producers from across the country are standing with South Dakota on this issue and understand that there are major problems with the mandatory beef checkoff program,” said SDFU President Doug Sombke, of Groton. “We’re calling for sweeping changes that would make the program more transparent, fair for all producers and a program that uses our hard working beef producers’ funds to truly promote beef products and research.”

The special order states:  “NFU and other organizations, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have recently discovered accountability issues concerning the beef checkoff and implementation of programs.” The accountability issues stem from an audit of the program that showed the major contractor of checkoff funds had either misused funds, or had accounting errors. The policy says no organization “may receive contracts for more than 50 percent of the total checkoff dollars on an annual basis,” and goes on to say: “No checkoff dollars can be used to pay for any portion of salaries or benefits of people employed by a policy/lobbying organization or of an individual consultant/lobbyist.”

NFU is also calling for the complete separation between any policy organization and the Federation of State Beef Councils to provide for complete checkoff accountability. NFU delegates support amending the Beef Promotion Act to allow the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) to become a completely independent and freestanding organization and to lift the five percent cap on CBB administrative costs so it can finance its own independent meetings without assistance from, or coordination with, any policy organization.

“We’re deeply concerned that the millions of dollars that beef producers pay into the checkoff program aren’t being used the way they should be,” Sombke said. “We owe it to our producers, who are out there every day raising the best beef in the world, to make the best use of those funds.”

National Farmers Union staff will use this special order of business to urge lawmakers and policy leaders  in Washington, D.C., to make changes to the checkoff program. South Dakota has seven delegates representing the state at the NFU convention which ends today.

To read the special order CLICK HERE.

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