Agriculture Sec. Vilsack challenges NCBA over beef checkoff concerns

By Stewart Doan

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 19 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA has “serious concerns” with a National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA) governance plan’s impact on national beef checkoff decision-making.

Agri-Pulse has obtained a letter Vilsack penned this week to NCBA President Steve Foglesong that spells out USDA’s concerns about the policy side of NCBA getting too cozy with the checkoff side of the association. According to Vilsack, “NCBA’s reorganization proposal would…weaken the firewall between policy and checkoff funded activities, thereby jeopardizing the Beef Checkoff program and set a bad precedent for checkoff programs in general.”

Not so, according to an NCBA official. In an interview with Agri-Pulse, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Burton Eller contends the governance proposal would strengthen the firewall between the checkoff and NCBA that has “withstood USDA audits for 14 years.”

NCBA leadership is scheduled to meet with Vilsack next week and Eller says they’ll be prepared to address the concerns he raised in the letter.

For an audio report on the letter and NCBA’s reaction to it, click on:

To read Secretary Vilsack’s letter, go to:
To read NCBA's statement in response to Vilsack's letter, go to:

To return to the News Index page, click: