OCA Supports Vilsack's Withdrawal of 2nd Beef CheckoffMon, 22 Dec 2014 10:40:48 CST
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association is pleased to see US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has agreed to pull back the idea of establishing a second beef checkoff. OCA Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey said he reviewed a lot of the comments that were published in the Federal Register on the proposal and he found no one supported the concept. He found that it didn't matter if organizations traditionally supported the checkoff or not. Neither supported the idea of creating a second beef checkoff that would run inline with the current beef checkoff.
"Probably the biggest reason for that, in our opinion, is the mass confusion that would cause of two different programs trying to operate simultaneously under different boards, etc.," Kelsey said. "It would just be too confusing."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Kelsey about the outlook for the nation's beef checkoff. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to the full interview.
OCA and Vilsack can find common ground that something needs to be done to enhance the beef checkoff. The program is still operating under the original assessment level of $1 per head that was established in 1985. Kelsey said inflation alone has eroded the strength of the program and he agrees with Vilsack that something needs to be done. OCA believes that are a couple ways to do that. Option one would be to modify the 1985 Act to increase the assessment. Option two would allow states to do something to enhance the checkoff on a state level.
Oklahoma now has legislation in place allowing the state to explore that option. Kelsey said that became a possibly through work done in the last legislative session. Now with the federal option going away, he said this will allow the state's allied organizations to work together and develop a plan in the next year. Kelsey is optimistic a solution be developed and consensus can be made. In looking at the beef industry in Oklahoma from a organizational stand point, he said all of the organization's that touch the beef industry are well aligned and are ready to work together, which is not the case in other states.
On the federal level, OCA also continues to watch a proposal to allow beef from Argentina to be imported into the United States. The proposed rule from the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would allow for the importation of fresh and frozen beef from Argentina. Kelsey said they are opposed of the idea because Argentina has not demonstrated the ability to secure their borders and to follow risk mitigation strategies involving specifically Food and Mouth Disease (FMD).
"We just can't afford to have that disease in the United States in terms of our herd health," Kelsey said.
Secondly, Kelsey said they are not confident the APHIS division will kept the nation's herd safe.
"We're just not seeing the documentation that we need to see that inspections have taken place and those types of things on our side," Kelsey said. "Nor have we, in our opinion, followed the proper rule making process in this case."
Typically OCA supports open, free and fair trade, but in this case, Kelsey said the potential risks to the nation's herd is too great, so he is encouraging all cattlemen to make comments on the proposal through the Federal Register. The comment period continues through December 29th.
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