Beef checkoff 'financial firewall' works: NCBA, CBB

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Beef Checkoff financial firewall is working exactly as it should, claim officials of both NCBA and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which oversees the Beef Checkoff Program.

“The financial firewall is intact and functioning properly,” said Polly Ruhland, acting CBB CEO. “CBB monitors NCBA’s compliance with the firewall as part of our review of the monthly invoices submitted to CBB for the work performed under the approved Authorization Requests.”

Last year concerns were expressed after an AUP (Agreed-Upon Procedures) audit on checkoff finances at NCBA found some time and expense coding issues. In response, CBB suggested changes to NCBA’s established procedures.

“Any coding mistakes made by NCBA were unintentional,” said Forrest Roberts, NCBA CEO. “Knowing that accuracy in our checkoff compliance impacts the credibility of and producer support for the checkoff, we strive for 100 percent accountability. There were no willful or intentional misappropriations of checkoff resources.”

Expenses have been reviewed regularly by independent auditors and CBB since NCBA was formed in 1996. In an attempt to continually improve its controls over time and expense recording procedures, NCBA has hired a compliance officer. NCBA expenses are also reviewed by CBB every month.

“Resolutions to all of the compliance issues identified by the Clifton Gunderson AUP Report were approved by CBB and USDA in January 2011,” Ruhland said. “CBB staff members have been working closely with the new NCBA director of compliance to review and discuss NCBA’s ongoing enhancement of their policies and procedures related to compliance with the firewall.”

The good work done by NCBA and CBB with checkoff funds over the past 15 years speaks for itself, Roberts said. As a result, consumers have more confidence in beef, new products show up more often in restaurants and supermarkets and the news media has a better understanding of the beef industry. Through the checkoff, NCBA and CBB also managed several major food-safety issues, such as E. coli and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
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