TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Cattlemen’s Association (KCA) is calling out the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) for alleged misuse of federal funds.
The KCA has been working with a private organization, the Organization for Competitive Markets, to find out how federal money is being spent by the KLA.
Representatives from the KCA said the KLA has been using money from the Federal Beef Checkoff Program to pay rent for their offices and pay employee salaries.
The KCA also alleges that some money has disappeared completely.
The Beef Checkoff Program requires that $1.00 from every cattle transaction be paid to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, a federal entity. According to the KLA, 50 cents of every dollar remains in Kansas, the rest goes to the federal board.
The Kansas Beef Council is an entity of the KLA. However, the KLA refutes the claims made by the KCA that funds are being misused. KLA’s Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs, Aaron Popelka, said the funds are being used in accordance with the law.
“The money that is used for rent and employees, that money is in fact spent. Our budgets are actually sent to the United States Department of Agriculture and reviewed by the secretary. Within those staff numbers, that is how we run the beef promotion and research programs that are conducted,” said Popelka.
The KCA and Organization for Competitive Markets allege that 10 million dollars per year are being misused by the KLA and the Kansas Beef Council. Popelka said that is not accurate.
“We collect, for every transaction in Kansas, about 9 million dollars and about 22 percent of that, about 2 million dollars, actually has to be returned to other states because it has to go where the cattle originated…So the actual dollars that the Beef Council then uses to forward on to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board is 7 million,” explained Popelka.
Because the Cattlemen’s Beef Board keeps 50 cents of every dollar, the amount returned to the Kansas Beef Council is about 3.5 million dollars.
The KCA said they just want to know what the money is specifically being used for.
“The concern that KCA has as an organization is that we don’t know because it is a tax we feel the books should be relevant to every cattle producer to see and know how those dollars are used because it is legislated or assessed that they be collected,” said Greg Davis, President of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association.
The KCA and Organization for Competitive Markets also allege that money from beef checkoffs is being used to fund lobbying groups. This claim was also refuted by the KLA who said all of their financial records are available through the Department of Agriculture.
The KCA and OCM said they want an independent group to take over the Beef Checkoff Program.
“We’re calling on the Governor and legislature to pass legislation that would form a new entity to collect the funds and administer the funds here in Kansas,” explained Joe Maxwell, Executive Director of the Organization for Competitive Markets.