Farm groups, from local cooperatives to large national organizations, traditionally hold their annual meetings during the winter, when field work is at a minimum and a meeting in town mixes business with a social get-together. Many of the national meetings will be held online this time due to the pandemic.
Newly released documents in a lawsuit between a group of independent Montana cattle ranchers and the USDA show that millions of dollars from an industry marketing fund are being diverted to the top cattle lobby, which some ranchers have long claimed misappropriates those funds for political use. The case could reshape how the beef checkoff, as the marketing program is called, is administered.(No paywall)
After a week in which Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who's running for president, was in the spotlight for her call to check the power of big agribusiness and "level the playing field for America's family farmers," Big Ag began to hit back, insisting her ideas are out of touch with reality.
An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."
Big Ag is back on the offensive in Oklahoma, less than a year after voters defeated a bill that would have stripped the state’s residents of their ability to regulate corporate farming. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to pay an additional $1 tax per head of cattle sold in the state, and will hold a Nov. 1 vote on the tax for Oklahoma cattle producers. Family farm advocates say that much of the money collected under such checkoff taxes is funneled to private industry groups that use it to promote the interests of corporate agriculture over independent farmers.
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt stars in a 78-second National Cattleman's Beef Association video that urges farmers and ranchers to file comments about repeal of the so-called Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, "and ...about how to get it right as we go forward." Pruitt's role in the video, which directs viewers to the NCBA website to file comments, "has drawn the attention of experts in government ethics," says E&E News.
Ongoing lawsuits against the producer-funded beef checkoff are part of a drive by activists "to end beef promotion and, ultimately, the production of beef in the United States," says the chief executive of the largest U.S. cattle group. "We might disagree on policy matters within the industry, but it’s another thing entirely to target the volunteer-led state beef councils through unholy alliances with animal rights activists and others intent on driving beef producers out of business," wrote Kendal Frazier of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in an essay on Drovers.
Colorado native David Bernhardt won Senate confirmation as deputy Interior secretary, the No. 2 job at the department, on a mostly party-line vote, reported the Denver Post. A high-ranking Interior official in the past and most recently part of a law-and-lobbying firm in Denver, Bernhardt was described by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as a walking conflict of interest.
A cattle industry leader spelled out a three-year timeline that ends with a doubling of the current $1-per-head beef checkoff. Scott George, past president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, provided the timeline during a session at the...