Report alleges misuse of U.S. beef checkoff funds

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), the organization which administers funds collected on the $1 per head checkoff on U.S. cattle, has issued a statement citing improper use of checkoff funds by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the largest U.S. beef industry association.

“An independent accounting firm tested charges from NCBA to the beef checkoff in five areas and found many expenses that were either improperly charged to the checkoff or insufficiently documented,” says a statement by CBB secretary-treasurer Robert Fountain Jr.

“For example, international and domestic travel expenses for the spouses of staff and volunteer leadership, consulting fees for the purpose of investigating a certified beef program for the policy division, travel performed for the purpose of initiating an NCBA-member insurance program and time spent by employees in meetings related to non-checkoff revenue development were charged in full or in part to the checkoff.

“These findings are extremely troubling to the CBB Executive Committee. For this reason, CBB will begin a more comprehensive compliance review of NCBA for FY 2009 and FY 2010″

In a statement, NCBA president Steve Foglesong said, “On Monday evening, July 26, we received the independent accountant’s final report. We are committed to achieving accuracy in this report. Responsible use of the producer dollars and ensuring the financial firewall are critical. Where mistakes were made, we will correct them.”

The CBB said the report has been forwarded to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the oversight agency for the beef checkoff.

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