MCA Submits Beef Checkoff Improvement Recommendations
The Montana Cattlemen's Association (MCA) has submitted recommendations to amend the Cattlemen's Beef Board checkoff program as follows:
1. Checkoff dollars be used to promote only U.S.A. beef from cattle born, raised, and processed in the United States of America.
2. A periodic vote on the checkoff program (every five years).
3. Prohibit any one cattle organization from serving as the "prime contractor" for the program, but allow all U.S. cattle organizations to participate in approved projects on a case-by-case basis.
4. Reform the Cattlemen's Beef Board to reflect proportional representation from all national cattle organizations.
5. Allow for checkoff expenditures to protect U.S.A. beef and cattle from unfair trade practices and to protect the U.S. cattle herd from import practices which threaten cattle herd health and beef consumers.
6. Allow checkoff expenditures to promote branded products from small and large packing entities.
7. Provide that 70% of all funds collected remain in the state where collected, and 30% to the national Cattlemen's Beef Board.
8. Provide an exemption for producers contributing equal or greater funds into a private sector self-help effort.
In addition, the MCA Board recommends any increase in the checkoff assessment fee not be considered unless or until the above recommendations are implemented.
Montana Cattlemen's Association Mission Statement
To actively participate with Montana cattle producers to protect our industry's future.
To address market interests, serve to support Montana's environmental, cultural and historical heritage, and protect the interests of Montana cattle producers in international markets and trade issues.
The Montana Cattlemen's Association shall be true environmentalists in protecting and advancing their environmental positions in water rights, mineral rights and natural resources.
The purpose of MCA is to address the market interests of Montana cattle producers. MCA will serve to support the environmental, cultural and historical interests of Montana cattle producers. A primary purpose is to restore prosperity to rural Montana by advancing the interests of agriculture.
MCA is composed of 12 districts throughout Montana. Each district selects its own director. Those districts and current directors can be found by clicking on the officers & directors button above. Your voice through your director is important to the success of MCA and your future.
With increased imports, decreased market share, a collapsed finished cattle market, and a host of other challenges facing the cattle producer and his way of life, it is imperative that each and every cattleman in the State of Montana becomes more active in protecting his livelihood.
By joining MCA your voice will be heard and with hard work, dedication, and perseverance the cattle industry can become profitable once again!
MCA LOOKS FORWARD TO PASSAGE OF FARM BILL
The Montana Cattlemen's Association (MCA) congratulates all the folks and organizations that helped push the Farm Bill through conference committee. Erik Somerfeld, MCA president in waiting as well as a director of the Montana Beef Council, sends a particular thank you to the National Farmers Union, United States Cattlemen's Association, and to all the members of MCA who have worked on this matter.
Erik points out, "Throughout this process it became clear who is looking out for farming and ranching families as opposed to those organizations who work for different interests."
Mark Boone, MCA's outgoing president, notes that more than 70% of NCBA's operating budget is derived from the Beef Checkoff and that a portion of those funds are then used to lobby against mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Mark notes, "The meat industry led by NCBA opposed the Farm Bill because it didn't scuttle COOL."
NCBA and the meat industry signed onto a letter opposing COOL, which was sent to Senate and House members of the agriculture conference committees. Somerfeld emphasized that the signatories to this letter represent the vertically integrated packers and importers and clearly do not represent the interests of Montana's family ranchers.
The Montana Cattlemen's Association (MCA) has formed a committee to evaluate the feasibility of leading a nationwide petition drive seeking a vote on the Beef Checkoff Program.
MCA is concerned that since the passage of the Checkoff in 1985, thousands of cattle producers have entered the industry, have paid their $1 per head of cattle sold, but have never had an opportunity to voice their opinion on this $83 million per year program. This is fundamentally wrong and contrary to the basic principles of democracy. A periodic vote is the only means of granting producers the opportunity to voice their support or lack thereof for this program. MCA is also concerned that one national organization serves as the primary contractor and that a disturbingly large amount of all dollars collected goes to implementation costs (administrative fees). Accordingly, MCA will explore the process involved in a nationwide effort to bring accountability to this mandated program.
MCA is mindful that since the Checkoff was implemented, 28 years has passed without a vote. The Livestock Marketing Association undertook a similar effort in 1998 and collected over 127,000 producer signatures. However, only 83,464 signatures were validated of the 107,880 that was required to force a referendum. A portion of the signatures stricken were from producers less than 18 years of age, despite there being no legal basis for doing so.
MCA expects to make a decision on this effort sometime this spring.
For questions or comments, please contact Dennis McDonald at 406-537-2333.