As the cattle industry convened this week in Orlando for its annual summer conference, I’m sure more than a few cowboys were curious as to the tone of the meeting. With a year-long feud between factions of the Cattleman’s Beef Board and its chief contractor, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, in the forefront of producers’ minds, the meeting marked a critical juncture in the marketing and promotion of my favorite protein.
Rod Smith at our sister publication Feedstuffs reported the Beef Board had finally reached agreement on an originally contentious “roles and responsibilities” document, laying out some modifications to the relationship between CBB and the Federation of State Beef Councils, responsible for 50 cents of the $1 per head beef checkoff. (See news section of Beef Producer page.)
The concept of roles and responsibilities was originally proposed by the board’s executive committee earlier this year, but received little support outside that small group.
The agreement adopted at the summer conference, however, had near unanimous support from the Board’s members following months of intense discussion among the various interested constituencies.
Here’s the bottom line: It’s time, as one cattleman put it this week, to end the bickering. Furthermore, it’s time to heal whatever fractures remain in the trust of one industry organization in the other, and get on with the business of marketing and promoting beef at home and abroad.
As I like to say, it’s time to build a bridge and get on over it. We can ill afford the type of division so well documented by my colleagues over the past year. The domestic and the international marketplaces present no shortage of challenges to beef producers as it is. From the U.S. and European economies to the international trade disruptions we’ve faced in the past ten years, we’ve got enough on our plates without the continual distractions fomented by an extremely vocal minority within our industry.
Now, lest you think I’m strictly an NCBA apologist, I submit that all checkoff-funded contractors have significant responsibilities under the checkoff act and order that, as a producer, I take very seriously. If the firewall should ever be breached, heaven forbid, I want to know about it, and I want it dealt with.
We can all agree on a few things: First, that marketing and promoting beef is critically important to our livelihood as farmers and ranchers. Second, that the checkoff has been an overwhelmingly positive influence in the marketplace. And third, that it’s time to set aside our own selfish agendas and get back to business.