A group of farmers and ranchers has filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas, alleging that the Beef Checkoff program has improperly used funds to lobby politicians on behalf of large agricultural interests. The lawsuit was filed by Kansas rancher Mike Callicrate, who is also an officer in the Organization for Competitive Markets, reports the Kansas City Star.

The suit names the secretary of Agriculture, the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board and several other entities. It alleges thay portions of the money collected from farmers under the mandatory program has been improperly given to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which the suit claims is primarily a policy and lobbying group on behalf of large agricultural interests, and therefore works against the interests of small farmers.

The cattlemen’s association responded in a news release Friday, saying that the suit is an attempt to “destroy more than 25 years of market development and consumer demand building by the Beef Checkoff Program.”

Association president J.D. Alexander said the suit was filed as part of a partnership between the Organization for Competitive Markets and the Humane Society of the United States.

“OCM claims to advocate for a fair, competitive agricultural marketplace; however, in doing so, it partnered with an organization known for its anti-agriculture agenda,” Alexander said.

Alexander said the beef checkoff is supported by nearly 75 percent of cattlemen and cattlewomen.

Source: Kansas City Star