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Agricultural News

TCFA vs. Secretary Vilsack Over Second Beef Checkoff

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:03:32 CST

TCFA vs. Secretary Vilsack Over Second Beef Checkoff

There has been a lot of talk recently about more resources for promotion, education and research that the beef checkoff has traditional funded. Several states including Texas have
passed a state beef checkoff to generate another dollar per head. This concept has been discussed in Oklahoma, but has not been acted on. Texas Cattle Feeders Association Chief Executive Officer and President Ross Wilson said collecting another dollar per head is working well in Texas.

"We couldn't be happier in Texas that we have a state checkoff in place, because we think that is a very important addition to the investment in beef marketing, promotion, research, all of the great things the national checkoff has done," Wilson said.

Ross is not sure about what US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has in mind in creating another checkoff for the beef industry. Vilsack has proposed creating a second beef checkoff under the 1996 Farm Bill under the generic commodity checkoff act. This is different from the original policy that created the beef checkoff in 1985. The 1996 Act gives the US Ag Secretary much more authority and control over several aspects of the producers checkoff dollar. Wilson said the 1996 Act also increases the administrative overhead allowance from five percent to 15 percent.

"I don't know too many producers that want to spend another 10 percent on administrative overhead, but more importantly they don't want USDA or anyone other than themselves and the elected leaders that they have on have on all these state beef councils and on the cattlemen's beef board, which has been nominations by the state's and appointments by the Secretary of Agriculture," Wilson said. "Those are the individuals and the industry leaders they want deciding how the dollar is invested, not the Secretary of Agriculture or the staff at USDA. That is the major disagreement that we have with the Secretary (Vilsack) today on his proposal."

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Wilson at the recent TCFA Annual Convention held last week in Oklahoma City. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz feature.

TCFA, along with the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and National Cattlemen's Beef Association have all written the Secretary voicing their disapproval of this latest proposal. They have also had members of Congress that are Democrats and Republicans reaching out to the Secretary asking for a timeout, but Vilsack seems to be moving forward aggressively.

This past week Secretary Vilsack was in Louisville speaking at the National FFA Convention. In the media brief news conference with reporters, Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse asked Vilsack about where he stands on getting a proposal out on this new beef checkoff. Vilsack responded by saying a additional step will take place before a proposal is released.

"That is to pose a series of questions to producers and producer groups so we can get their input to formulate," Vilsack said. "I don't have any preconceived notions as to what this checkoff should look like."

USDA will be putting a notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments and input from producers and producer groups. Vilsack said he would be happy not to do this if the
beef checkoff working group which has been meeting for three years could continue to talk and reach a point of agreement.

"That has not happen unfortunately, the only point of agreement by all of the groups is that more money is needed for marketing, research and promotion, Vilsack said. "...I think it is unfortunate that the lack of the ability of folks in the industry to coalesce around a set of changes and reforms into the current checkoff prevents us from getting additional money into the system. "So absent that agreement I got the power to create an avenue for additional money, I am going to use that power, unless the industry comes back and says you don't have to do that Mr. Secretary, we've come to an understanding. This is how we would like it done. I am all for that, but I haven't heard that. What I have heard is that we need more money."

If an agreement can not be made, then Vilsack is preparing to solicit comments and use those comments to shape a proposal. Vilsack said he is looking for something to be instituted in calendar year 2015 after a series of administrative steps.

"I have very intent on getting this done, Vilsack said. "It will be in place for a couple years, then there will be a referendum. We might learn a little something about what works and what doesn't work, but in the mean time we're going to be getting more resources into the system."

Groups like the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association have signed off on a letter from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association saying to the Secretary we don't want a beef checkoff based on the 1996 Act. It's hard to tell if Secretary Vilsack will listen to these cattle groups. Hays said we do know that US Cattlemen's Association, National Farmers Union and R-Calf USA seemingly have Vilsack's ear on this issue.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region 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.



Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Ross Wilson and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack
right-click to download mp3


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