USDA Secretary Vilsack Backs Off Second Separate Beef Checkoff- Cattle Groups Are PleasedFri, 19 Dec 2014 10:32:19 CST
USDA won't proceed with its proposal for a new and separate beef checkoff program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acceding to congressional opposition. Vilsack told DTN in an interview, perhaps tongue in cheek, "That's the first time in three years they (the beef industry) have agreed on anything." He proposed the new checkoff when informal discussions over reforms to the current $1-a-head program bogged down. Lawmakers included language in the $1 trillion government funding bill telling USDA not to create the checkoff.
One of the targets of the proponents for a new beef checkoff, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, is pleased with the pull back.
Their President and Victoria, Texas cattleman, Bob McCan, offered the following statement in regards to the announcement by Secretary Vilsack regarding a duplicative beef checkoff under the 1996 Act:
"We greatly appreciate Secretary Vilsack's action, allowing the industry stakeholders to continue working together to enhance the Beef Checkoff Program. All of us involved in this process have been very mindful of the tremendous producer support of the Checkoff, and we will continue to work with the Beef Checkoff Enhancement Working Group and our members to enhance the program while building on that support."
Also weighing in on the Beef Checkoff announcement was the Executive Vice President of the Missouri Cattlemen, Mike Deering. "We are extremely disappointed that this proposal ever saw the light of day. The idea was a bad one and never should have been presented in the first place," said Deering. "The Beef Checkoff Program was started by cattlemen for cattlemen with their money. We are not talking about government money. We are talking about cattlemen investing their money into their industry. We want less government intervention; certainly not more."
Earlier this week, Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Colin Woodall of the Washington, DC office of the NCBA- and Woodall said the language in the recent Omnibus Appropriations Bill was very straightforward when it came to the Beef Checkoff issue. Woodall says that "Congress directed him to do no more work on a duplicativebeef checkoff based on the 1996 act" and he believed that there was no wiggle room for Secretary Vilsack to do anything except back off of his concept of a second, separate beef checkoff.
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