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By Mary Flannery, Atkinson, Nebraska.

The Kansas Cattlemen’s Association and the Organization for Competitive Markets raised concerns Oct. 9 in a press release that the Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Beef Council have been “collecting and expending $10 million per year in violation of state and federal law.”

The KCA and OCM argument was lined out in a briefing paper found here.

The organizations assert the KBC is not a separate entity as required by law; that it doesn’t submit IRS Form 990s; and that the legal structure of the KBC lacks transparency in how producer funds are being spent.

“We support the beef checkoff program, but we strongly object to the way it is being administered the way it is being collected, and the total lack of transparency and accountability to the cattle producers who are forced to pay the federal tax,” KCA member Greg Davis said in the statement. “For years Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has voiced these concerns, but no one has taken one step to stop this injustice. We can only hope, based on the evidence in this briefing paper, that others in our government will hear our concerns and answer the call to end the taxpayer abuse. It is our fear that if this mess is not cleaned up soon, the majority of cattle producers will be calling for an end to the beef checkoff program.”

OCM Executive Director Joe Maxwell was quoted in the release as stating, “OCM and KCA are calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to disqualify the Kansas Beef Council from collecting any further checkoff funds until a complete separation is established from KLA and all associated lobbying activities. If needed, the state legislature should enact legislation setting up a new collection authority that is fully transparent and equally representative of all Kansas cattle producers.”

KLA Chief Executive Officer Matt Teagarden asserted that the accusations leveled by OCM and KCA are false and a front for what he believes is their ultimate goal of ending animal agriculture.

Teagarden said that yes, indeed, the KBC is a part of KLA, and has been since 1973—predating the 1985 Beef Promotion and Research Act that set in place the mandatory national beef checkoff. And, the act “grandfathered in” the organizational set up as a matter of efficiency.

“KLA members back then saw a need to do more beef promotion, research and education, and so they formed the Kansas Beef Council,” Teagarden explained. “And cattle producers across the state voluntarily contributed a state checkoff to fund those activities.” When the Beef Promotion Act and Order was written and passed by Congress in 1985, it explicitly states that there were already organizations in place, doing this work in some states and that those organization should continue to do the work of beef promotion, education and research under the newly created mandatory federal beef checkoff, he explained.

Teagarden said the KLA uses auditors to ensure checkoff dollars are kept strictly segregated from association funds. There are firewalls in place, from tracking employees’ time spent working on projects in 15-minute increments, to the mandate that all Kansas Beef Council activities, projects and programming must be submitted to the USDA for approval before implementation. And, Teagarden said the KBC produces an annual report each year that shows how dollars were spent, where and what programs were funded. That can be found here.

Some may question why the structure is still in place, and Teagarden said that the organization structure has been reviewed over and over again as times have changed, but the current structure of KBC as a part of KLA has far more benefits than negatives for cattle producers and checkoff investors because of the efficiencies and cost savings it provides. He re-iterated that this was a tactic to undermine animal agriculture in Kansas.

“It’s frustrating for us that the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has joined forces with the Organization for Competitive Markets,” Teagarden said. “Because it’s pretty clear OCM’s ties to the Humane Society of the United States and we know for certain HSUS desires to end animal agriculture.”

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

 

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