Vilsack defends beef checkoff

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he hasn’t had a chance to study that lawsuit filed against the nation’s beef checkoff.

But responding to a question from Brownfield Tuesday at the Iowa State Fair, Vilsack expressed his support for the checkoff program.

“The checkoff program, generally speaking, is an important piece of marketing.  It’s an opportunity for us to also do very important research—and so we are supporting the checkoff,” Vilsack said.

“We have obviously gone through an audit—we’re trying to get things straightened out—and I think we’re in a better place than we were a couple of years ago,” Vilsack continued. “I think there’s more unanimity among cattle producers in terms of what the checkoff does and how it’s managed.

“I think that’s a positive step forward.”

The group called the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) has filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.  OCM is seeking a court order prohibiting any beef checkoff dollars from going to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the major contractor to the checkoff.

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