WORC filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s corrupt beef checkoff program.
In September, WORC joined allies in the filing of an amicus brief in federal court supporting Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) and U.S. farmers and ranchers in challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and some state beef councils over the constitutionality of the Beef Checkoff.
Checkoff programs are government-created commodity research and promotion enterprises. At their simplest, they work by collecting funds through taxes on commodity producers — farmers and ranchers — and funneling those dollars into research and advertising for that specific commodity. For example, you might know the “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” campaign. That campaign was funded by Beef Checkoff dollars. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) receives millions of dollars through the Beef Checkoff and directs some of the money toward advertising campaigns while using the rest to lobby against the interests of family farmers and ranchers by attacking beneficial proposals such as reinstating mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL). NCBA is using farmers’ and ranchers’ own money to advocate for policies that benefit multinational meatpackers and put family farmers and ranchers out of business. This corrupt practice needs to stop.
NCBA is using farmers’ and ranchers’ own money to advocate for policies that benefit multinational meatpackers and put family farmers and ranchers out of business. This corrupt practice needs to stop.
Food and Water Watch filed the amicus brief, a public, legal document containing additional information and relevant arguments related to the issue. WORC signed on along with organizations like Dakota Rural Action, Family Farm Action Alliance, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and Rural Advancement Foundation International USA.
Since the Beef Checkoff was first implemented in the 1980s, corporate concentration of the cattle industry has increased, markets have become less competitive, and fewer farmers and ranchers are in production agriculture. Instead of promoting fair prices for ranchers, the Beef Checkoff helps big meat companies and their lobbying allies to squeeze them out of the market.
Never miss an opportunity to make the west even better: receive our action alerts.
WORC has long fought the corporate corruption of checkoff programs. In 1999, WORC passed a resolution, in lieu of corporate control of the ag industry, calling for USDA to schedule a farmer referendum vote on the beef and pork checkoff programs. Right now there is a national effort to petition USDA to schedule a vote in 2021.
WORC believes the best checkoff livestock promotion program would not require any legislation, but simply involve producers writing a check to the organization of their choice; a new, legislated program is a second-best option. In 2003, WORC adopted beef checkoff legislation principles to guide rulemaking on a fair checkoff. Learn more about these principles and the harm that the current beef checkoff program does to farmers and ranchers here.
Yes, I want to help WORC elevate western voices and hold decision-makers accountable!