R Calf Demands Investigation Into NCBA's Handling of Beef Checkoff MoneyTue, 18 Jan 2011 4:53:43 CST
On Monday, R-CALF USA sent a formal letter ( click here for the letter R-Calf sent to USDA) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice) to request that a proposed resolution between the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) that is designed to absolve NCBA of its misuse of Beef Checkoff (Checkoff) dollars be rejected. Further, R-CALF USA requested that NCBA's contract with CBB be suspended, pending a full and complete investigation into NCBA's misuse of Checkoff money. We have comments from Bill Bullard, who talked with colleague Stewart Doan of Agri-Pulse on Monday evening about these charges, and you can hear Bullard on today's Beef Buzz by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
CBB and NCBA have apparently agreed to an arrangement in which NCBA would pay CBB $216,944 for its improprieties initially identified by Clifton Gunderson in a July 2010 compliance review. Both organizations asked USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to approve this agreement, which AMS did at the end of this past week. The compliance review covered only a sample of actual financial transactions.
"NCBA's improper expenditures of $216, 944 are intolerable, and these serious violations represent not only disrespect and disdain by NCBA for its legal obligations to the Checkoff, but also to the hundreds of thousands of independent U.S. cattle producers required to pay into the Checkoff," said R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair Joel Gill. "Many cattle producers believe USDA is subsidizing NCBA's political and policy agenda with Checkoff dollars. There are deep concerns that CBB has decided not to demand reimbursement for NCBA policy activities within its final resolution, even when all expenses were found to have been charged to the Checkoff."
In documents that support the agreement between CBB and NCBA, CBB identifies NCBA actions that violate the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (the Act), the Beef Promotion and Research Order (the Order), and the contract between NCBA and the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC). The documents reveal that NCBA used thousands of Checkoff dollars to: 1) pay legal fees to maintain NCBA; 2) pay NCBA's credit card fees; 3) pay employee's time for non-Checkoff activities; 4) pay for employees to participate in NCBA's charity golf tournament; 5) pay for spouses' travel; 6) pay for meetings, travel, and speaker costs for non-Checkoff activities; and, 7) pay for expenses incurred by NCBA's policy division, which is the non-Checkoff division that advances the organization's political and policy objectives.
The USDA's Ag Marketing Service has already approved the compliance review and its results between the Cattlemen's Beef Board and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. According to Bill Bullard with the R-Calf group- they have requested a meeting and have gotten an appointment with officials at the AMS to review that approval- R-Calf saying they hope to convince USDA to reopen the review and have a total review of all expendictures of NCBA of checkoff dollars they have received to spend as a beef checkoff contractor.
"NCBA has violated the trust of every U.S. cattle producer required to pay into the Checkoff by committing numerous wrongful and unlawful acts of charging the Checkoff for improper and ineligible activities, and we urge USDA and Justice to immediately suspend NCBA's eligibility to contract with CBB until a comprehensive investigation has been conducted and the findings reviewed," he emphasized.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the state on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the listen bar below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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