At Mercola.com, Dr. Joseph Mercola explains that America’s food industry, specifically its beef industry, is “rife with corruption,” and warns consumers that their own tax dollars are being used to promote agricultural policies that are antithetical to public health. He writes:
You’re probably aware that the food industry has the power to influence your eating habits through the use of advertising and lobbying for industry-friendly regulations. But did you know the U.S. government actually funds some of these activities through the collection and distribution of taxes on certain foods?
And that by doing so, the government is actively supporting agricultural systems that are adverse to public and environmental health, and discouraging the adoption of healthier and more ecologically sound farming systems?
The beef industry in particular appears to be rife with corruption aimed at protecting big factory-style business rather than the up-and-coming grass fed industry. As explained in Washington Monthly:1
“Imagine if the federal government mandated that a portion of all federal gas taxes go directly to the oil industry’s trade association, the American Petroleum Institute [API].
Imagine further that API used this public money to finance ad campaigns encouraging people to drive more and turn up their thermostats, all while lobbying to discredit oil industry critics … That’s a deal not even Exxon could pull off, yet the nation’s largest meat-packers now enjoy something quite like it.
[W]hen you buy a Big Mac or a T-bone, a portion of the cost is a tax on beef, the proceeds from which the government hands over to a private trade group called the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association [NCBA].
The NCBA in turn uses this public money to buy ads encouraging you to eat more beef, while also lobbying to derail animal rights and other agricultural reform activists, defeat meat labeling requirements and defend the ongoing consolidation of the industry.”
Federal Tax Helps Beef Industry Promote Beef
In a nutshell, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) beef checkoff program2 is a mandatory program that requires cattle producers to pay a $1 fee per head of cattle sold.
It’s basically a federal tax on cattle, but the money doesn’t go to the government but to state beef councils, the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the NCBA. All of these organizations are clearly biased toward the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) model.
The money is collected by state beef councils, which keep half and send the other half of the funds to the national CBB, headquartered in Colorado, which is in charge of the national beef promotion campaign. Nationwide, the beef checkoff fees add up to about $80 million annually.
As the primary contractor for the checkoff program, the NCBA receives a majority of the checkoff proceeds, which is used for research and promotion of beef.
But while the beef checkoff program began with the best of intentions, aiming to help struggling ranchers by pooling their money to pay for the promotion of beef, discontent over how the money is being used has grown over the years.
Read more here.
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