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Court Allows Beef Checkoff Lawsuit to Expand

The federal district court in Montana has granted R-CALF USA’s motion to expand its beef checkoff program lawsuit to 13 states in addition to Montana.

The lawsuit now includes state beef councils in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says they want producers to have a choice of where their checkoff dollars end up.

“Whether they want all of their one dollar beef checkoff to flow to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, where it is subject to rather stringent government fiscal controls—or if they would rather send half of their money to their respective state beef councils,” Bullard says.

He says the state beef councils have been sending millions of dollars in checkoff funds each year directly to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) to fund that group’s Federation of State Beef Councils.

Bullard calls it “a form of money laundering”.

“It’s siphoning off half of the monetary funds and then much of those funds—approximately ten million dollars—finds its way to the NCBA to help fund its Federation of State Beef Councils and whatever else the NCBA may use with that money.”

NCBA issued a statement decrying R-CALF’s “phony allegations”.

“The simple fact is that regular audits of the beef checkoff and NCBA have found both to be compliant with the laws governing the checkoff. Two audits conducted by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General have also come back clean. R-CALF’s accusations to the contrary are false,” said Kendal Frazier, NCBA Chief Executive Officer.

NCBA also accused R-CALF of working with activist groups to weaken the beef checkoff.

“It has been repeatedly demonstrated that these attacks by R-CALF are being aided by allies at the Humane Society of the United States, Food and Water Watch, Public Justice and other activist organizations that stand against cattlemen and women. These groups know that beef demand is increasing in the United States and abroad, in part due to work funded by the checkoff. These achievements make the beef checkoff and other agriculture industry self-help mechanisms a target for organizations and individuals driving a vegetarian agenda.”

--Brownfield AgNews 
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