When we congregate to pray, our prayers in unison exalt a volume much greater than any prayer spoken alone. When cattlemen contribute a simple dollar to the checkoff, the volume exalted from the many contributions generate a promotion and research fund of $80 million. This is a model that has proven to benefit the beef industry $11 to every $1. However, unlike how we trust our prayers with the angels above, a shadow of leadership hovers over checkoff coffers, like that of a puppet master pulling the purse strings of the Kansas Beef Council (KBC).
The title of the KBC bylaws encourages curiosity, “Operational By-Laws, Kansas Beef Council, An Organization of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA).” The title is questionable; due to the fact that KBC is promoted as an independent, stand alone, non-influenced management committee of Kansas beef checkoff assessments. This concept is reiterated in the first paragraph of the bylaws, “shall operate as a separate and segregated entity”. The conclusion is the title is strange, but there is no evidence of impropriety in a title.
The Kansas Beef Council is organized for the purpose of collecting and administering beef checkoff assessments. The act prohibits the use of funds collected for beef checkoff to be used for the purpose of influencing governmental action or policy. This is for good reason. The assessments levied by the beef checkoff literally represent every cattle producing member of the country. When a managing entity over a beef council lobbies for parties of other types of livestock or any other initiatives, there is no guarantee that the dollars collected by the beef council for the purpose of promotion and research are not indirectly supporting the lobbying efforts against the cattlemen’s own interests. The KBC bylaws state “an organization of the Kansas Livestock Association”, and KLA does currently have four registered Kansas lobbyists. Again this is curious, but there is no evidence of impropriety with having registered lobbyists.
So how much influence and power does KLA have over the checkoff? The short answer is that KLA has complete and total control over budgets, policies, and major programs KBC develops. This power is provided in the bylaws of KBC in section five.
KCA and its members have made many requests to see financial details with regard to how the KLA ultimately spends the KBC assessments. With numerous rejected requests for this information, members of KCA voice their concern about how their checkoff funds are spent with a likely request for an increase to a $2 assessment in the pipeline. A related story can be read in the Kansas City Star article “Ranchers Take on the Beef Industry Over Mandatory Checkoff Payments”. These are cattlemen that support a checkoff, just not the current administration of the funds.
With no cooperation from KBC to provide critical transparency to their practices, numerous areas of parent entity overreach, and reform seeming a distant dream, cattlemen have only one option for recourse. KCA has received calls from producers looking to redirect their checkoff dues from the state level directly to the national level. KCA cannot, by law, accept beef checkoff funds. However, after communicating with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the KBC, KCA has been officially notified that producers not wishing to split their dues between the state level and the federal level can ask for all beef checkoff dues to be directly sent to the CBB at the national level. Unlike the Kansas Beef Council, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board is not an affiliate of any policy group. If you would like your checkoff dues directed to the CBB, you CAN do this by providing the following to the Kansas Beef Council:
A written request for the redirection. The request must be received by the 15th of the month following the month in which the cattle are sold. Click Here for an example letter.
Proof of Sale. A sale barn receipt for cattle sold or processor receipt. The receipt must show that the Checkoff has been collected.
Redirection of Checkoff dollars to CBB will only be granted moving forward and are not retroactive. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact the KCA office at 785-238-1483 or the Kansas Beef Council office at 785-273-5225.
The Kansas Cattlemen’s Association is fully funded by membership dues and donations. Voting KCA members are independent cattle and agriculture producers.
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