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Agricultural News

NCBA President Steve Fogelsong Gets Tough Letter from USDA on Firewall Issues of His Organization's Proposed Structural Changes

Thu, 20 May 2010 4:47:59 CDT

NCBA President Steve Fogelsong Gets Tough Letter from USDA on Firewall Issues of His Organization's Proposed Structural Changes

The Governance plan of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has come under fire in a strongly worded letter from US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Vilsack says that USDA believes that the plan as explained to them this spring would weaken instead of strengthen the firewall between the NCBA's policy side and the Federation of State Beef Councils. We talk about this story today on our Beef Buzz- and you can hear our audio overview of this continuing give and take between NCBA and USDA by clicking on the Listen Bar below.

Vilsack offers seven specific "firewall requirements" that must be achieved by any change in the goverance plan as it impacts the NCBA's relationship with the Federation of State Beef Councils. Those points include the idea that no policy members can ever vote on any use of checkoff money- only the Federation and the Cattlemen's Beef Board can make those allocations; the Federation must continue to be an independent group; State Beef Councils that make up the Federation should not have to buy seats to be a part of any policy group in order to be a part of the Federation; Federation board members should not be voting on any policy issues and perhaps most importantly, policy organizations "should not be permitted to influence, determine outcomes, or vote on checkoff decisions."

The Radio Oklahoma Network and OklahomaFarmReport.Com has worked with Agri-Pulse.Com on this story since the 2010 annual meeting of the NCBA- and Agri-Pulse obtained a copy of the letter that was sent to Fogelsong- click here to read that full letter.

In response to the letter and also as an update to the media about meetings that have gone on this week in Denver with Executive Directors of the State Cattle Associations and State Beef Councils- Steve Fogelsong defends the plan that now has details fleshed out to be looked at by NCBA members around the country in advance of the 2010 NCBA summer conference in Denver at the end of July.

Here is the statement from Wedenesday evening from Fogelsong:

"This week in Denver, beef industry leaders from NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board met with State Beef Council and State Cattlemen’s Association executive directors to plan for FY 2011. During this time, the results of the producer-run Governance Working Groups were shared with attendees. These Working Groups have been building the bylaws and other details for NCBA’s proposed governance structure for the past few months. These details now will be rolled-out to producers and stakeholder organizations across the country. Input from our partners and members is critical to the success of this governance initiative. We welcome feedback as we continue shaping the new structure that will come before NCBA’s Board of Directors, July 31 in Denver.

Also this week, I received a letter from Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack in response to a letter I sent to him in March about NCBA’s governance restructuring. NCBA leaders have a previously scheduled meeting with USDA next week in Washington, D.C. to update them on the progress of the Governance Working Groups. We will discuss Secretary Vilsack’s letter during this meeting. In addition, we will be meeting with several agriculture organizations who have previously expressed interest in understanding our governance restructure.

For nearly two years, NCBA has been working on a new governance structure to better serve beef producers and the beef industry. Throughout this process the Governance Task Force and the Working Groups have designed the new governance structure to be efficient for the industry and consistent with the legal requirements of the Beef Promotion Research Act & Order that governs the national beef checkoff. Just as they have for 14 years, NCBA and the Federation of State Beef Councils remain committed to being compliant with the Act & Order and to enable USDA and all producers to discern that 100 percent of the checkoff funds are used appropriately."

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.


Ron Hays Beef Buzzes on the latest exchange between USDA and NCBA on that group's plan to change their structure.
right-click to download mp3


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