The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called legislation introduced today in the House and Senate, “nothing more than another attempt to allow activists to dictate to producers.”
In a press release, NCBA said, “Sens. Booker and Warren have long been supported by animal rights groups, and this collective group of bill sponsors has worked long and hard to dismantle our industry’s only self-funded promotion and education effort.” Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and their partners Sens. Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the Senate bill. Reps. Nancy Mace, (R-S.C.), and Dina Titus, (D-Nev.) introduced the House bill.
“In 2021 cattle producers overwhelmingly denied a referendum to end the Checkoff with detractors coming nowhere near the required signatures to petition for the termination of this vital program. The Beef Checkoff has a long track record of support among cattle producers,” said NCBA president and South Dakota cattleman Todd Wilkinson. “Congress has plenty of work to do that could be far more beneficial to Americans. They should focus in areas of urgent need, rather than wasting time on these unwelcome “reform efforts,” that would only benefit anti-agriculture activists.
The Checkoff’s legality and current implementation has already been upheld by multiple federal courts and, last year, the Supreme Court denied a petition challenging the Checkoff. Cattle producers understand the high return on investment and increase in beef demand the Checkoff provides.
“For every dollar paid into the Checkoff program, $11.91 is returned in producer profit and between 2014-2018 total domestic beef demand increased by 12.8 billion pounds. Any legislation that would hurt beef promotion efforts is tantamount to taking money directly out of cattle producers’ pockets,” said Wilkinson. “The introduction of the “Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act of 2023” represents Senators Booker, Lee, Paul, Warren, and Gillibrand working to subvert the will of U.S. cattle producers. NCBA will always stand firm in its support of the U.S. Beef Checkoff program and will continue to fight the animal rights groups and the members of Congress who assist them in their efforts to end animal agriculture.”
Utah Senator Mike Lee said that, “Checkoff programs are filled with waste and often abuse those forced to contribute to their coffers. These common-sense reforms will ensure that checkoff funds promote and protect all ag producers (big and small) who are meant to be served by these programs.”
“Farmers and Ranchers are being forced to pay into checkoff programs that often advocate against their best interest and support food system consolidation. These programs need transparency and oversight so a farmer can be sure they aren’t required to fund their own demise,” said Senator Cory Booker.
“American family farmers are in peril, and today, every cent counts,” said Taylor Haynes, president at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “If we’re going to be forced to pay into USDA’s checkoff programs then the very least we should expect is transparency, accountability, and oversight of our hard-earned dollars, and the OFF Act accomplishes just that.”