WASHINGTON – The National Farmers Union (NFU) board of directors recently voted to leave the Beef Checkoff working group effective immediately. NFU is a grassroots, producer-driven organization that includes family farmers, fisherman, ranchers and consumers across the United States.

The NFU board voted to withdraw from the Beef Checkoff after it was unsuccessful at implementing reforms to the checkoff system.

“After three years of pushing for real reforms in the beef check-off program, NFU has decided that the process has become a bridge to nowhere and a waste of time and resources,” Roger Johnson, NFU president, said in a statement. “The working group was designed to bring together vested parties from across the beef industry and to attempt to reach a consensus on substantial reforms that would make the check-off a stronger, more effective tool for the beef industry.

“Sadly, it has become clear that in reality, there is no willingness from key players within the group to allow real reforms to take place. NFU remains willing and eager to engage with others who are interested in reforming the beef checkoff, such that it operates in a manner like other checkoff programs.”
For example, NFU wanted the Cattlemen's Beef Board to conduct checkoff projects on its own and enter into checkoff contracts with non-policy organizations and private companies to prevent “policy-driven organizations” from using checkoff funds to pay for political activity.

NFU also wanted to make the checkoff completely refundable, and to have a referendum on continuing the beef checkoff every five years.

“It is our recommendation that USDA consider rewriting the beef check off program under the 1996 generic research and promotion act,” the NFU said in its resolution.