Beef business benefits with collaboration of NCBA, CBBWASHINGTON — It was the difference between night and day. The 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, held in Kissimmee, Fla., was nothing like the one held last year in Denver. In Kissimmee, there was no rancor, no animosity, just honest discussions conducted in a way that will help move the cattle industry forward. You could feel the momentum beginning to build in a positive direction.
By: Bill Donald,
WASHINGTON — It was the difference between night and day. The 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference, held in Kissimmee, Fla., was nothing like the one held last year in Denver. In Kissimmee, there was no rancor, no animosity, just honest discussions conducted in a way that will help move the cattle industry forward. You could feel the momentum beginning to build in a positive direction.
Frankly, the renewed spirit of partnership between the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board was refreshing and quite evident at the event.
Throughout the hallways, staff meetings, committee meetings, executive committee meetings and board meetings, the atmosphere was one of cooperation and partnership. Everyone was focused on how to best serve cattlemen and women in the most effective, efficient ways possible.
Past and future
Wesley Grau, CBB chairman, said it well at the general session when he said, “The past is the past and no one can change the past, but we can impact the future.”
It is up to all involved with the checkoff, whether they are members of the CBB, NCBA, a state beef council or any other producer organization to forge a better future for the checkoff. A healthy checkoff is vital to a successful future for the beef industry. It wasn’t designed to be a political bludgeon; it was designed to increase the demand for beef.
Much has been made about mistakes made by NCBA, and we have made them. We understand the importance of accuracy and accountability. We’re profoundly sorry for our errors and any loss in producer support for the checkoff they may have caused, but we’re moving forward in our mission to build consumer demand for beef. Progress requires that others interested in a stronger checkoff join us in this effort and not stand on the sidelines throwing rocks.
Our partner, the CBB, joins us in this approach. The CEO of the CBB acknowledges that “the financial firewall (at NCBA) is intact and functioning properly,” and their chief legal counsel has reported that the firewall has not been breached. NCBA will continue to improve its systems and processes to assure producers across the country that their checkoff investments are being used wisely and efficiently. NCBA staff and officers also respect the CBB’s role of providing oversight for the checkoff program. They must remain vigilant in assuring that dollars are spent lawfully and as the act and order and checkoff investors intended.
The good work done by the Beef Checkoff Program is well known. Among other things, it has strengthened consumer confidence in the safety of beef, increased the number of new beef products in the marketplace, enhanced a Beef Quality Assurance program and maintained strong relationships with thought leaders in the media and health organizations. NCBA is proud of its involvement in these and other positive steps.
We want the foundations we’ve built to last and the successes we’ve enjoyed to continue. That’s why I pledge to do all I can to make the checkoff work as effectively and efficiently as possible and improve it for the future. I also pledge, however, to challenge false accusations. Yes, NCBA will be accountable for its mistakes. But we never will willfully misdirect funds or spend producer checkoff dollars improperly.
Every producer should consider ways to improve and enhance the checkoff. However, this only can be done if all involved treat each other with respect. The destructive discourse and false accusations of the past must stop if we want a better future. Our goal at NCBA is 100 percent accuracy and accountability. We expect and will request the same from others as we develop the programs to build a stronger beef industry.
Editor’s Note: Donald is president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a Montana rancher.