Billings, Mont. – The below statement can be attributed to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard: “On August 4, 2017, the Western Livestock Journal, through its publisher Pete Crow, rallied to provide editorial reinforcement to the CEO of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) who made an embarrassing attempt in Drovers to accuse R-CALF USA of working with activist organizations to destroy the cattle industry.
“We understand why these groups are throwing such tantrums. It’s because R-CALF USA did what it said it would do: it successfully fought for the independent U.S. cattle producer. Our successful checkoff lawsuit stopped the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from violating the Constitution of the United States. It did so by prohibiting the USDA from taking money from independent cattle producers and giving that money to a private entity to fund its private speech without the cattle producers’ permission.
“Our lawsuit threatens these groups’ government-mandated funding source. A 2014 government report reveals that over 82 percent of the NCBA’s budget is derived from the government-mandated beef checkoff program. While reading the Western Livestock Journal’s critique of R-CALF USA online, readers cannot help but notice that the magazine is a direct financial benefactor of the government’s checkoff program. This is clearly evidenced by the prominent, paid-for beef checkoff program advertisement featuring cow/calf producer Chuck Kiker that runs adjacent to Mr. Crow’s editorial.
“In other words, the government-mandated beef checkoff program helped pay for Mr. Crow’s time and equipment used to attack the largest producer-only cattle association in the United States: R-CALF USA. This is the type of conflict of interest that R-CALF USA has vowed to end.
“Mr. Crow blatantly deceives readers by making the ridiculous claim that the First Amendment should somehow protect people from having to pay federal taxes when they don’t agree with what the federal government does. He reinforces this by quipping, ‘Should I not pay my taxes?’ This is a most bizarre assertion given the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated the Constitution does not bar the federal government from imposing taxes to pay for government speech, regardless if the payor disagrees with that speech. The First Amendment does, however, bar the federal government from imposing taxes to pay for private speech to which the payor disagrees. That is what our checkoff lawsuit was all about.
“Unfortunately, like the NCBA before him, Mr. Crow doesn’t have his basic facts right. He falsely implies that R-CALF USA was among the same groups that opposed the checkoff in 1985. No, it wasn’t. R-CALF USA wasn’t even formed until 1998, a full 13 years later, and R-CALF USA member-policies supported the checkoff from 1998 through 2014. It was not until 2014 that our membership voted that the checkoff program had become too corrupt and too abused to be of benefit to the industry and that was the first year we called for the discontinuation of the program.
“There is real irony in Mr. Crow’s allegation that in R-CALF USA’s view, an end to the NCBA is justified by any means. That simply does not square with the fact that Mr. Crow’s entire attack is based on the false and perverted notion that the U.S. Constitution should allow the federal government to force producers to pay for private speech without the producer’s permission.
“When R-CALF USA successfully passed country of origin labeling (COOL) and the ban on packer ownership of livestock in the Senate version of the 2002 Farm Bill, the checkoff-funded organizations were outraged and they attacked us because we had the audacity to work with consumer groups, particularly the Consumers Federation of America. Now they attack us because we have found competent, expert attorneys who are keenly interested in helping R-CALF USA’s thousands of independent rancher-members achieve their goals. Oh well.
“U.S. cattle producers deserve better than this. Our industry’s journalists and their respective trade publications should not be engaged in such underhanded and deceitful ploys as exemplified by Mr. Crow’s poorly researched rant.”
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.