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R-CALF On Beef Checkoff

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January 30, 2006

Beef Checkoff Committee Established; Resolutions Head to Members for Vote

(DENVER) – During its recent annual convention in Denver, R-CALF USA held an inaugural Beef Checkoff Committee meeting, a concept created by R-CALF USA Co-Founder, Region I Director and Former President Leo McDonnell, as well as R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker.

“Both gentlemen realized R-CALF members had concerns about the Checkoff and wanted the organization to become more involved in the process,” said Jim Hanna, R-CALF USA Beef Checkoff Committee Chair. “Both leaders stressed, however, that in no way was this an attempt to derail the beef promotion process, but rather a format R-CALF could use to advocate for positive changes.

“We started with a clean slate,” continued Hanna, a longtime R-CALF USA member and Nebraska rancher. “We had tremendous interest and participation from the members during the convention, and in the end, I felt we came away with a couple of very good resolutions.”

Members will vote on the proposed resolutions during this year’s mail-in ballot, and the proposals contain three major themes:

To encourage R-CALF USA affiliate organizations and their members to become active in the process used to select members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and state beef councils, and to encourage those individuals to actively seek positions at both levels.

To make appropriate changes to the Beef Promotion Act and Order that would allow Beef Checkoff dollars collected from U.S. cattle producers to be used to promote products derived from cattle that are exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States.

To establish a referendum process that could effect changes to the Act and Order including:
the initiation of a required periodic referendum;
the assurance that all national cattle organizations have adequate representation on the CBB and are able to participate in approved projects;
the ability to promote branded products;
the ability for a larger portion of funds to be used on “in-state” projects;
the ability for more recently formed cattle-producer organizations to bid on Beef Checkoff contracts.

“I want to stress that none of these ideas advocate for R-CALF to receive Checkoff dollars,” Hanna said. “Our membership and leadership insisted that any organization, including ours, that lobby for specific policy purposes should not be a primary contractor for Checkoff funds.

“We recognize the importance of beef promotion and look forward to working with the CBB to create an even stronger program,” Hanna continued. “We need to move away from finding things we can’t do, and toward finding ways to do more things that benefit U.S. cattle producers.”

“I’ve known since my first R-CALF convention that the controversy surrounding the Checkoff had more to do with how the program was administered and who was administering the program, rather than members simply being opposed to the overall program,” said R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker.

Beef Checkoff representatives have attended the R-CALF USA annual convention for the past few years, but this year, R-CALF USA included those individuals on the event’s agenda.

“We’ve built a dialogue with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board staff, and this year they attended the R-CALF convention,” Kiker said. “We had an open forum with those gentlemen, and it went extremely well, resulting in the two resolutions that will go before our membership for a vote.

“And while R-CALF has no interest whatsoever in contracting with the Checkoff, we do want our members who pay Checkoff dollars to feel like they’re engaged and have a vested interest in the Checkoff process,” emphasized Kiker.

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA’s membership consists primarily of cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and feedlot owners. Its members – over 18,000 strong – are located in 47 states, and the organization has over 60 local and state association affiliates, from both cattle and farm organizations. Various main street businesses are associate members of R-CALF USA. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.

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