Organizations unite in suit over Beef Checkoff funds

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has formed a partnership with the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) to file a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the National Cattlemen's Beef Association using beef checkoff funds as a contractor.

Mike Callicrate is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, and the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) and the CBB's Beef Promotion Operating Committee. Callicrate is the owner of a meat packing facility and retail market called Ranch Direct Foods in Colorado Springs, Colo. He also is vice president of OCM.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the NCBA receives a large majority of checkoff funded projects. The lawsuit alleges that the CBB operating committee awards the contracts to NCBA and that 10 of the 20 seats on the committee are held by NCBA members. Fred Stokes, president of OCM, said he believes the NCBA is biased in favor of large cattle operations at the expense of smaller ranches.

But according to J.D. Alexander, president of NCBA, independent research shows nearly 75 percent of cattlemen and women support the beef checkoff.

“HSUS is an organization going state by state vowing to end production agriculture by outlawing scientifically validated production practices in animal agriculture," Alexander said. "Their efforts put people out of business and often jeopardize the well-being of livestock.

“Their actions will impact consumers by increasing protein costs at the grocery store," he added. "They are no friend to family farmers and ranchers or consumers and will be challenged at every corner by NCBA. Animal agriculture is vital to sustaining food production and we will not sit by and allow these organizations to stifle our ability to mitigate hunger and feed people here and abroad.”

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