By Stewart Doan
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, July 11 – Citing personal and family reasons, including the deteriorating health of his father, Tom Jones, a cow-calf producer from Pottsville, Ark., tendered his resignation as chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) on Sunday. He also notified Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of his resignation as a member of the CBB.
Jones becomes the second high-ranking CBB official to quit in the last two weeks. Chief Executive Officer Tom Ramey stepped down on June 28 after admitting he eavesdropped on conference calls organized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the largest beef checkoff contractor.
An internal CBB investigation found that Jones and immediate past chairman Dan Dierschke, a beef producer from Texas, knew of Ramey’s plans in advance and did not try to stop him. Jones and Dierschke issued written apologies.
In a statement, NCBA President Bill Donald said as a rancher himself, he understood the difficulty in balancing volunteer leadership, family and business.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom and his family.”
Jones announced his resignation in a letter to CBB members. In it, he explained that his father’s “real battle” with ALS played a major role in his decision, but also made it clear that his ongoing feud with NCBA over checkoff governance issues was a contributing factor.
“Some board members put their allegiance to their chosen association before their oath of obligation to serve all producers who pay the checkoff,” Jones charged. “The checkoff program could benefit from positive change and it is difficult to work for that when your allegiance causes you to wear blinders to the change that is needed.”
He characterized the roughly $78 million a year beef promotion and research program as “broken,” and expressed doubt that his resignation, by itself, would lead to better relations between CBB and NCBA.
“You still have a lot of work to do and empty calls for “getting along” won’t get you anywhere,” Jones told his former CBB colleagues.
“I have never in my life seen as much public defamation and misrepresentation as I’ve seen lately,” he said, adding that “This kind of behavior is beneath us as people of agriculture.”
For his part, Donald said NCBA remains optimistic “that the checkoff can move forward to serve the men and women that invest in it.”
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