THE U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced its findings after re-evaluating a March 29, 2013, audit report of beef checkoff program funds.
The original review was conducted to make sure checkoff funds are used only for the purposes of the checkoff and not for public affairs.
The re-evaluation of the original review was prompted by a complaint filed by R-CALF USA.
After the original review, OIG said the relationships between the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB) and its contractors, including its primary contractor, the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA), complied with the legislation that established the checkoff in 1985 and provide guidance for the use of checkoff funds (Feedstuffs, April 8, 2013).
Upon further investigation, OIG identified issues related to the execution of the audit and found that certain aspects of its quality control system were not fully completed, but the revised result confirmed that, in general, no mismanagement was found.
OIG's overall conclusion was that CBB, NCBA and USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, "as applicable, took appropriate action regarding the matters or that there was no impropriety related to the allegation."
In response to the OIG release, CBB chairman Weldon Wynn said the board "is delighted that this review has been completed and published and that it confirmed the original report's results. Once again, the OIG did not find any cause to question the relationship between CBB and its contractors, nor did OIG find inappropriate reimbursement of contractor expenses. The bottom line is that producers and importers can be assured by the OIG report, the peer review of that report and CBB's mission of continual improvement that their checkoff dollars are being invested appropriately and effectively."
Furthermore, CBB reported this month that beef and dairy producers' support for the beef checkoff is at the highest level recorded in 21 years, at 78%, according to a random survey conducted in late December through early January by Aspen Media & Market Research, an independent firm.
Of the 1,225 beef and dairy producers surveyed, eight out of 10 said the beef checkoff contributed to a positive trend in beef demand, and 71% felt that the checkoff added to the profitability of their operation.
"It's an increasingly competitive world, and for beef producers to continue to succeed, we have to be able to not only produce a safe, nutritious and sustainable product, (but) we have to promote its benefits in this country and worldwide. We can only do this by working together through the beef checkoff," said Jeanne Harland, chair of the Producer Communications working group.
In addition, the survey found that two out of three producers believe that the checkoff is well managed.
"The beef checkoff has, for nearly 28 years, served the beef industry with programs producers want, and that is why we see the checkoff 'as representing our interests,' according to the survey," Harland said.