• If you are having problems logging in please use the Contact Us in the lower right hand corner of the forum page for assistance.

A CBB Member's Perspective

Help Support Ranchers.net:

Tommy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
755
Reaction score
0
Location
South East Kansas
A CBB Member Weighs In With His Perspective…70.9% of NCBA’s Total Overhead Paid by Checkoff
13 Jun



CBB…

Solid as ever

by Chuck Kiker

Member, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

(Published in the Western Ag Reporter week of June 6, 2011 and in the latest edition of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association newsletter…both available on the internet).

Let’s get this straight… the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) is NOT an organization, as has been printed in some of the press recently. It is, instead, a board that oversees the national beef checkoff, and its board members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

As Board members, we have responsibilities, and we take an oath. One of our key responsibilities is to leave any affiliations with other organizations and our special interests at the door when we are representing the CBB.

For example, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) members who have been appointed to CBB represent everyone, not just USCA. CBB members are responsible for representing ALL cattle producers for the good of the industry.

Disclaimer…

I am writing this article as an individual producer and a director of USCA. My opinions and thoughts concerning the beef checkoff and the CBB are NOT the opinions of the beef checkoff, the CBB, the USDA, or even USCA. They are mine!

The checkoff…

The beef checkoff program is 25 years old. The issues we’re experiencing with the checkoff today have a long history, and it takes time and experience inside the CBB to understand the complexity of not only the program and its processes, but also the problems.

Members’ role…

In 2005, at the CBB summer meeting, I began serving on the Joint Producer Communications Committee, made up of members of the CBB and of NCBA’s Federation of State Beef Councils.

As a committee member, you basically listen to bid proposals, called Authorization Requests (ARs), by contractors to conduct work funded by the checkoff in accordance with the Beef Promotion Act & Order. The committees then make recommendations

to the Operating Committee, and it’s Operating Committee that actually decides whether or not the AR should be funded from the Beef Board’s budget.

Can you imagine any other government program where a contractor for federal funds is permitted to vote on who receives the contract?

Conflict of interest?

At that 2005 meeting, potential contractors were making their pitches for their ARs, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) had a large one for Producer Communications. Another organization, the National Livestock Producers Association (NLPA),

submitted several ARs that competed with NCBA’s AR. At the end of the presentations, NCBA’s AR that addressed similar efforts to NLPA’s proposals was for significantly more money than NLPA’s. NCBA’s AR was going to cost $2,615,000 compared to NLPA’s AR’s price of $1,756,905.

NCBA pitched its AR at a cost of $1,900,000, but after being asked during discussion if its implementation was included in that price, they disclosed that it was not. It turns out that NCBA submits a separate AR for implementation for all of its ARs per budget category. NCBA’s implementation for Producer Communications was $715,000, bringing the total cost to $2,615,000. The committee had to choose between the two presentations, and the tension was so thick in the room that the chairman called an executive session of the committee after polling the committee’s preferences on whether to remove the non-committee members from the room. I was the only one on the committee that voted to award the funding to NLPA.

My point is that NCBA’s influence through membership on the Producer Communications committee and staffing of it clearly and literally directed discussion in favor of the NCBA AR. The committee’s vote could have potentially wasted an extra $750,000 by awarding the funding to NCBA and not to NLPA if the Operating Committee acted on the recommendation.

I learned later that potential contractors at that time had to submit AR proposals to NCBA – not to the CBB – even if the potential contractors was in direction competition with NCBA. Little did I know then, but that was just the tip of the iceberg!

It was at that point, after listening to the debate and reasoning of the other committee members, that I began to understand there were some problems with the beef checkoff process.

Today…

Let’s fast-forward to present times. For the 2011 program year, NCBA was awarded 93% of available program funding. This included 14.2% that went to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), a subcontractor under NCBA, as well as 1% that went to American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) – also a subcontractor under NCBA – for its Beef Cook-Off program.

The only other stand-alone contractors besides NCBA are:

- ANCW, which received 0.37% of the funding for the Beef Ambassadors and spokesperson bureau ARs,

- MICA, the Meat Importers Council of America, which received 1.17% of the funding for foodservice, public relations, and retail work in the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, and

- CBB, which received 5.27% of the funding for Producer Communications work.

The significance of these figures comes to light when learning how NCBA is reimbursed for its expenses. While it’s true that contractors are not permitted to profit from beef checkoff projects they are awarded, they are permitted to recover “implementation” costs. Implementation can be defined as the costs associated with a contractor’s out-of-pocket expenses. In NCBA’s case, the organization turns in one AR per budget category for each year for the implementation costs on all the ARs it is awarded for a total of four implementation ARs.

NCBA computes the budget needed for its Implementation ARs by estimating the hours NCBA staff will work on programs for the checkoff, along with associated overhead expenses. NCBA has staff whose time is allocated 100% to the checkoff; other staff is allocated partially to the checkoff; and there are a few NCBA employees that do no work for the checkoff at all. At the end of the year, the total number of staff hours worked at NCBA and the total number of hours doing checkoff work are computed into the percentage of hours worked for the checkoff versus the total hours worked at NCBA. Last year, 70.9% of total work at NCBA was designated as being for the checkoff. NCBA’s implementation costs last year for the ARs awarded to them came in at a whopping $11.6 million. Remember, those implementation costs are over and above the direct costs of projects. This means that NCBA’s entire overhead was covered at 70.9%.

Even more astonishing is the fact that this includes general administrative salaries. The CEO of NCBA is also considered the CEO of the Federation of State Beef Councils, so his general administrative time is paid 70.9% with beef checkoff dollars.

NCBA has been managing the plan of work for CBB funds, the industry-wide strategic plan, as well as the plans of the committee meetings and the committee’s recommendations of work programs funded by the checkoff.

NCBA does not want to give that up because it enables NCBA to control the goals of the plans, and this in turn lets NCBA control how many hours its staff puts in on checkoff work and, hence, maintain control of the high percentage (70.9%) of its overhead that is reimbursed by the checkoff. This is one of the reasons why you are reading about the hoopla surrounding the vote to approve and implement the recommendations of the Roles and Responsibilities Committee.

Beginnings…

These problems began to evolve around 1996, when the merger between the National Cattlemen’s Association (NCA) and the National Live Stock and Meat Board occurred, and they have simply never been addressed.

Why? Because too many producers participating in the governance and oversight of the checkoff program were too closely tied to NCBA. The recent recommendations made by the Roles and Responsibilities Committee call for making changes to the planning and committee structures currently in place that will reduce the undue influence NCBA has had over the planning and goals of checkoff program work and will put control squarely back into the hands of the CBB. NCBA will still be the main contractor, but will lose its influence over how many hours of program work are done in-house at NCBA, ultimately giving NCBA less control of reimbursement for its overhead expenses.

The Roles and Responsibilities Committee recommendations will also make the committee process more inclusive of all producers and organizations. There will not be the perception that you are attending NCBA meetings when you want to follow your checkoff, and you certainly will not have to pay a registration fee or any kind of dues structure to NCBA to attend and participate in checkoff discussions. Producers are not supposed to have to pay to go to checkoff meetings now, but I know some who have been given a hard time or even turned away at NCBA meetings because they refused to pay a convention registration fee just to go to checkoff committee and CBB meetings held during the NCBA conventions. That’s just not right; it’s our checkoff, and we should have open access to it.

Other problems…

There are many other problems with the checkoff that result in inefficiencies and misappropriated funds, but the problems are not so enormous that they cannot be overcome. The good news is they are finally being addressed. The CBB now has the highest number of unbiased producers it has had in a long, long time, if not ever.

However, NCBA still has far too much influence over the national checkoff through its Federation of State Beef Councils and its members and directors.

Let me make something real clear, though: Those folks at NCBA who are 100% checkoff staff are working in your best interest, and they are bright, intelligent individuals who serve the beef checkoff well.

The majority of these people are working for you and making the most of the checkoff funding they are budgeted. It’s the structure and the processes that need overhauling, not the talented individuals doing the program work.

The CBB is going to continue to work toward making the beef checkoff more inclusive for all checkoff-paying producers and toward shoring up the program’s compliance with the Secretary of Agriculture’s guidelines and expectations.

By all means, if you have questions or read something that doesn’t sound accurate, call the Cattlemen’s Beef Board office at 303-220-9890 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 303-220-9890 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Talk to Tom Ramey, CEO of the CBB, or leave your name and number and ask to have one of the CBB officers or staffers return your call. It’s YOUR checkoff, and you deserve honest, factual answers.

There’s no better place to get them than straight from the horse’s mouth.



Note: Chuck Kiker has recently been appointed to another term on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Previously, he served on the CBB two full terms (six years). He went off the Board for a year, was nominated again in 2010, and went back on the Board in early 2011. This year he has been selected for the third time to serve on the Operating Committee. He is also on the CBB Budget Committee.
 

Sandhusker

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2005
Messages
18,486
Reaction score
0
Location
Nebraska
Isn't this exactly what has been mentioned for a long time now, but poo-pooed by NCBA members?
 

nenmrancher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
north eastern new mexico
You know the more I read and hear the nonsense coming from all envolved with this mess, I really believe that the check off either needs to be ended completely or anyone serving on any committee be it at a state or national level be required to resign their membership from any state or national organization and only be allowed to serve one or maybe two terms and then not be allowed to serve again on that committee or council for at least 10 years. This ought to get a bunch of the old farts that cant seem to do anything but fight with each other out and allow some young producers a chance to influence the industry.
 

Tommy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
755
Reaction score
0
Location
South East Kansas
What needs to happen is to do away with the Federation of State Beef Councils. It is only there to empower the NCBA over the Checkoff.
 

nenmrancher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
north eastern new mexico
Sorry Tommy, I disagree with you about doing away with the federation of State Beef Councils. I think that federation should be just that people appointed by the state they represent. I think the federation and the CBB are both needed to balance out each other. From what I am reading and hearing it sounds like CBB is out to take control of check-off and make it a one size fits all program administered by USDA.
 

Tommy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
755
Reaction score
0
Location
South East Kansas
nenmrancher...Sorry Tommy, I disagree with you about doing away with the federation of State Beef Councils. I think that federation should be just that people appointed by the state they represent. I think the federation and the CBB are both needed to balance out each other. From what I am reading and hearing it sounds like CBB is out to take control of check-off and make it a one size fits all program administered by USDA.

The Federation is set up to empower the NCBA. The state beef councils have to buy seats to be on the board. The more they spend the more seats they buy. Kansas has or had 8 seats on the Federation board at a cost of $2.4 million dollars per year. Every one of those 8 were from the KLA board, the KLA,(Kansas Livestock Association) is an affiate of the NCBA.
The CBB board consists of people from all cattle organizations in each state. I would say that most if not all of the Federation board members are NCBA members. Why do we need another organization telling the members of the CBB how and where to spend the checkoff dollars?
The CBB should have control of their part of every checkoff dollar. The NCBA should have no say in how it is spent.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Tommy,

Have you ever served on the Cattlemen's Beef Board? If not, why not?

Do you find it easier to get involved and make positive changes or to sit in the cheap seats and throw stones?

1. Those who make things happen.
2. Those who criticize those who make things happen.
3. Those who wonder what happened.

Where do you fit in Tommy?

Do you believe where there is smoke there is usually arson or do you realize that sometimes there is just smoke?

Why don't you help change the process Tommy? Anyone can be a critic like Sandhusker. That requires no effort.

If it was up to me, I would rather see progressive producers spending their research, promotion, and education money on their own branded beef products and become the sole beneficiaries of their efforts as opposed to a checkoff program where even relentless critics like you can benefit. I just don't like the idea of someone benefitting from beef research, promotion, and education against their will.


~SH~
 

Tommy

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
755
Reaction score
0
Location
South East Kansas
SH...Tommy,

Have you ever served on the Cattlemen's Beef Board? If not, why not?

Do you find it easier to get involved and make positive changes or to sit in the cheap seats and throw stones?

1. Those who make things happen.
2. Those who criticize those who make things happen.
3. Those who wonder what happened.

Where do you fit in Tommy?

Scott, it is next to impossible here in Kansas to get a seat on the CBB and impossible to get a seat on the KBC (Kansas Beef Council) if one is not a member of the KLA and NCBA. I have tried, so on this subject Scott I know what I am talking about.
Scott, how do you feel about the state beef councils spending all the money they do on Federation board seats? Do you feel that it is right for them to do that? South Dakota buys board seats too, just not as many as Kansas.

I am trying to make changes in the way it works Scott. I feel it is wrong and am working with others in our state to change it. I am not one of those who sit and bitch about things without trying to do something about it. I want the checkoff to be administered fairly, with the way it is set up now it is not.
 

Tex

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 13, 2007
Messages
2,156
Reaction score
0
Location
Texas
Tommy said:
SH...Tommy,

Have you ever served on the Cattlemen's Beef Board? If not, why not?

Do you find it easier to get involved and make positive changes or to sit in the cheap seats and throw stones?

1. Those who make things happen.
2. Those who criticize those who make things happen.
3. Those who wonder what happened.

Where do you fit in Tommy?

Scott, it is next to impossible here in Kansas to get a seat on the CBB and impossible to get a seat on the KBC (Kansas Beef Council) if one is not a member of the KLA and NCBA. I have tried, so on this subject Scott I know what I am talking about.
Scott, how do you feel about the state beef councils spending all the money they do on Federation board seats? Do you feel that it is right for them to do that? South Dakota buys board seats too, just not as many as Kansas.

I am trying to make changes in the way it works Scott. I feel it is wrong and am working with others in our state to change it. I am not one of those who sit and bitch about things without trying to do something about it. I want the checkoff to be administered fairly, with the way it is set up now it is not.

Tommy, please take the time, if you will, to tell the tale of the money trail and how control is taken by the NCBA through it. Tell where the money for the seats comes from and how they get it.

I am just asking this because I am not too clear on it and I think you might have all the pieces to be able to put together a better picture for us to see. (Please put in Kiker's disbelief over what he saw wrong with the picture).

Thanks in advance,

Tex
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Tommy: "Scott, how do you feel about the state beef councils spending all the money they do on Federation board seats? Do you feel that it is right for them to do that? South Dakota buys board seats too, just not as many as Kansas."

Tommy, I would want to hear the entire debate from both critics of the CBB / checkoff system and advocates of the checkoff system to hear the "WHYS" of how things are being run and WHY they were set up that way. Don't you want to hear the debate or do you rush to judgement and automatically assume wrongdoing?

Considering their dismal record in court, I wouldn't give 2 cents for the opinion of an NCBA critic without hearing the full beef checkoff debate to understand the merits of each position. The reasons WHY something is set up in a certain way is far more important to me than a sideline critic's interpretation of WHY something is set up a certain way.

To be totally objective, this has a lot of similarities with my concerns about the previous brand inspection program in SD. I didn't have a problem with the SD Stockgrowers Association running the brand inspection program at that time and that is where I felt it should rightfully stay as long as the two entities were funded totally seperate and I didn't have to be concerned about brand inspection fees going to pay for R-CALF's government cattle pricing agenda or R-CALF's use of BSE "fear mongering" to scare consumers away from beef consumption due to their ignorance about how Canadian imports affect our markets.

It's the same way with your concern with the beef checkoff and NCBA so I can appreciate that. What I can't appreciate is not giving people their day in court and a PRESUMPTION OF GUILT mentality.

I know many folks who have involved a lot of time and effort into beef promotion, research, and education through our beef checkoff. Folks who have volunteered countless hours of their time to better our industry while facing undue criticism from sideline critics who do nothing more than bitch about anyone who tries to move the industry out of the stone age.

PRESUMPTION OF GUILT is not a concept I can relate to. I gave the SD Stockgrowers the benefit of the doubt on how they were handling the brand inspection program and I would expect NCBA members to be given that same benefit of the doubt on their involvement with the Beef Checkoff.


Sandhusker: "So what do you think SH? Do you think there is just smoke and no fire?

Doesn't matter what I THINK! The only thing that matters is what the facts will prove. Didn't R-CALF's dismal record in court teach you anything about jumping to false conclusions?

I would guess that with a budget the size of the beef checkoff, there will definintely be differences of opinion on what constitutes abuse of those funds and what constitutes proper use of those funds. As I said before, I support accountability and transparency in this process and I am certain there will be corrections made to how checkoff funds are being used.

With that said, I also will give CBB folks the benefit of the doubt and I will give them their day in court.

You believe packers should have to justify any difference in price between fat cattle, and I don't. I believe a free market economy will justify those price differences, not the government.

You probably think the beef checkoff should be promoting US BEEF and I don't think there is enough foreign beef to justify the expense of isolating foreign beef to create a novelty item at the expense of US BEEF.

With that, I doubt we would agree on how checkoff dollars should be spent. There is lots of room for debate on how to spend checkoff dollars and there will be disagreement. You can count on it.


~SH~
 

Latest posts

Top