Lawmakers last week introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming, or OFF Act, which is aimed at reforming the federal checkoff system. However, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s CEO Colin Woodall said this about attacking the beef industry, not checkoff reform.
“The concern is that this is not about the (Beef) Checkoff,” Woodall said. “It is actually about animal activists attacking us as beef producers. The reason why I say that is when you look at the provisions of the OFF Act, the bill that was put in place or introduced, rather, by Senator Cory Booker, who is a Democrat vegan from New Jersey, and Senator Mike Lee, who is a meat-eating Republican from Utah, you can quite clearly see they do not understand how the checkoff works.”
For example, Woodall said the OFF Act says Checkoff money should not be used for lobbying.
“You can’t do that today,” Woodall said. “It says that checkoff money should not be used to disparage other agricultural commodities. You can’t do that with the checkoff today. It says that the financials of the checkoff should be published so that producers can look at them. All you have to do is go to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board website and you can find the financials of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.”
The legislation also specified that the checkoff should be allowed to be investigated or audited by the office’s inspector general.
“Something else that can also happen today,” Woodall said. “So, you have to step back and say, ‘If all this stuff is already happening, why are they doing it?’ Because it is an attack on the checkoff and the real underlying support here are animal activist groups.”
Woodall added that the OFF Act is just part of a bigger effort to slow down meat consumption.
“They figure the best way to hit us now is just to make it harder for us to do what we do,” Woodall said. “In all honestly, when you look at that strategy in the checkoff in the OFF Act, it shows that the checkoff is extremely successful because we have been able to build some great beef demand with the checkoff programs. These animal activist groups know if they make it harder for us to use the checkoff, then hopefully, that will impact demand.”
For more information, visit beef.org.