Oklahoma’s cattle producers should oppose an upcoming vote to increase the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff by $1 per head. This cash-grab, which would bring in an additional $3 million per year to the Oklahoma Beef Council, is a clear attempt to raise revenue after losing $2.6 million due to embezzlement committed by a staff member.
Like many other checkoff programs, at both the federal and state levels, the Oklahoma Beef Council suffers from a lack of transparency and accountability. The organization allowed an employee to write 790 fraudulent checks in a period spanning 2009 to 2016. They should not be entrusted with millions of dollars in additional resources that will come directly from the pockets of consumers.
Checkoff programs are regularly cited for improper spending and anti-competitive practices. Hiking the checkoff tax - a mandatory entry-fee to participate in the marketplace - would increase costs to consumers, reduce producer profits, and make it harder for both independent and young cattlemen and women to gain a foothold in the industry.
Oklahomans rightly pride themselves in being a “Right to Work” state, a policy that gives employees the freedom to pursue the livelihood of their choosing without being compelled to pay into or join an organization, that may not always represent their best interests. Those same freedoms should be extended to Oklahoma’s ranchers as well.
Federal Affairs Manager