The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) was recently notified that Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) attorneys have filed a lawsuit against USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) on behalf of the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM). This lawsuit seeks to divide the beef industry against itself by opening old wounds and weakening the beef checkoff as HSUS drives toward its ultimate goal of ending animal agriculture.
The lawsuit, filed by HSUS lawyers, seeks the release of documents related to two OIG audits of the beef checkoff and its contractors, including NCBA. Both audits found that producer investments in the checkoff are protected by the firewall, which prevents beef checkoff dollars from being used for policy activities. Two OIG full audits and multiple random audits by USDA have found contractors, including NCBA, to be in full compliance with the laws which protect checkoff funds.
“Those findings haven’t satisfied the extremist animal rights activists at HSUS or its partners at OCM,” said NCBA CEO Kendal Frazier. “Instead of working to better our industry, these two organizations and a small handful of cattlemen have chosen a devil’s pact in an effort to weaken the checkoff, which will in turn, weaken beef demand and our entire industry.”
The lawsuit is another attempt by HSUS to drive a political agenda. It diverts attention from beef promotion activities and wastes precious resources at a time when cattle prices and the profitability of the beef industry are under tremendous pressure. As part of an effort to protect the beef industry and stop the frivolous and divisive work of HSUS, NCBA will seek intervenor status in the lawsuit against OIG.
“There’s no doubt that HSUS stands against rural America. Their attacks on the beef and pork checkoff programs weaken promotion efforts. HSUS and its allies have clearly demonstrated they have no interest in the livestock business beyond ending it,” said Frazier. “They will attempt to make this about transparency and say they’re undertaking this effort on behalf of producers. But let’s be clear: HSUS intends to put every cattleman and woman in America out of business. By weakening checkoff programs and damaging producer-directed marketing and promotion efforts, they can cause economic harm to our industry and force us out of production agriculture.”
HSUS and OCM are working to rehash questions that were asked and answered long ago. Since then, multiple audits have demonstrated full and ongoing contractor compliance with regulations governing beef checkoff expenditures. Furthermore, NCBA has demonstrated that it remains committed to transparency and its role as a contractor to the beef checkoff.
“We have nothing to hide. We have, and will continue to fully cooperate with all reviews and audits of our contracting activities,” said Frazier. “However, we will not stand idly by and allow HSUS to kill the checkoff. This isn’t the first attempt to weaken our industry and it won’t be the last, but this is where we must draw a line in the sand and protect the interests of American cattlemen and women.”