TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Cattlemen’s Association (KCA) and the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) released a briefing document outlining how Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) is operating under the trade name Kansas Beef Council to collect and expend federal funds in violation of federal law.
KCA hereby requests the Kansas Legislature support disqualifying the Kansas Livestock Association, commonly referred to as KLA, and subsequently, the Kansas Beef Council, as the state’s Qualified State Beef Council. In addition, KCA supports all federally mandated Beef Checkoff assessments be transferred directly to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board until such time as the Kansas Legislature enacts legislation to provide for a Qualified State Beef Council that is independent, transparent, and representative of all cattle producers in Kansas.
The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 was designed to provide each state with the authority to, at least partially, govern the Beef Checkoff at the state level. Qualified State Beef Councils (QSBC) are permitted to retain a portion of collected Beef Checkoff assessments for state-wide beef promotion and research projects. The Kansas Legislature, however, has never passed any legislation relating to the Beef Checkoff, leaving a void of enforcement and oversight on over $3 million in assessments each year currently retained by the now recognized Kansas Qualified State Beef Council commonly referred to as the Kansas Beef Council.
The Kansas Beef Council, a subsidiary alias of the Kansas Livestock Association, fails to exist as a governmental entity, business entity, or state agency. The Kansas Beef Council is neither an entity authorized by state statute nor is it a beef promotion entity within a state of Kansas that receives voluntary assessments or contributions. In fact, the Kansas Livestock Association owns and conducts business under the trademarked alias “Kansas Beef Council” and is fully and totally in control of those operations. Although the Kansas Beef Council does operate under a veil of its own “Executive Committee”, the true administrative oversight, leadership, and operating control lays at the hands of the KLA Board of Directors and executive management.
Questions have gone unanswered for more than a decade regarding how KLA uses its influence over checkoff funds. Without publicly available financial reports and records for the Kansas Beef Council, it is likely that checkoff assessment revenues are used in part for KLA’s operating and lobbying efforts and to support their Political Action Committee, either directly or indirectly. In addition, while KLA represents less than 1 in 4 Kansas beef producers, the KLA Board of Directors has 100% authority over the Kansas Beef Council. This is taxation without representation, without transparency, and with no sensible system of accountability.
As it exists, the Kansas Beef Council may only conduct itself in a manner which is on behalf of the Kansas Livestock Association members and not on behalf of all Kansas cattle producers who are mandated to pay the beef checkoff assessments. The nature of KLA’s business, policy control, and oversight of the Kansas Beef Council is not authorized by the Kansas State Legislature and disqualifies the Kansas Beef Council as an entity organized and operating in Kansas.
The ongoing failure of KLA to disclose relevant financial information regarding the Kansas Beef Council and mandatory assessment revenues and expenditures has only bred contempt for the Beef Checkoff Program both in Kansas and nationally. Kansas Beef Council finances, including travel costs and specific salaries of officials were not made available to the pubic when requested. It is nearly impossible to make heads or tails of the financial details that are available. KLA stands behind private corporate entity laws that otherwise protect them from being forced to release said documents normally available under the Freedom of Information Act.
The lack of state legislation and regulatory oversight has left the Beef Checkoff in Kansas at great risk. As one of the largest qualified collectors of Beef Checkoff assessments in the country, impropriety of any kind in Kansas could threaten the program in its entirety. The rapid expansion of alternative protein options for consumers is intended to significantly alter consumer preference away from meat overall, beef included. The Kansas Legislature must step up and protect Beef Promotion and Research in the state of Kansas. KCA supports enacting legislation to provide for a Qualified State Beef Council that is independent, transparent, and representative of all cattle producers in Kansas, securing the program for future generations of producers and consumers.
— Kansas Cattlemen’s Association
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