Group Says Beef Checkoff Audit Documents Should Be Released

Organization for Competitive Markets files appeal over inspector general report materials

Published on: Jul 4, 2013

The Organization for Competitive Markets Tuesday filed an administrative appeal challenging the USDA Inspector General's refusal to release information relating to an audit of the Beef Checkoff program.

The OCM says despite an independent audit that discovered violations of the beef checkoff program, a recently released OIG report of those same operations did not discover such violations. To review the report fully, OCM filed a Freedom of Information Act request to demand disclosure of the audit records.

OIG says, however, that it will not release documents that were not contained in the final audit report. OCM's administrative appeal challenges the OIG's refusal to disclose these materials. The appeal also alleges that OIG has not complied with FOIA's statutory deadlines and improperly transferred records to the Ag Marketing Service – the agency being audited – for that agency to make disclosure determinations.

Organization for Competitive Markets files appeal over inspector general report materials
Organization for Competitive Markets files appeal over inspector general report materials

"The Inspector General stresses the need for transparency in the checkoff program, while simultaneously refusing to release thousands of pages of audit records," said Mike Callicrate, OCM president.

"Withholding so many records is like asking producers to monitor the government through a peephole; FOIA demands, however, that the doors of the checkoff program be thrown wide open, and OCM is determined to see that they are."

Under FOIA, OIG has 20 working days to make a determination on OCM's appeal.

OCM first submitted a FOIA on the audit records in April, 2013. Callicrate previously filed a lawsuit against the National Cattlemen's Beef Association alleging misuse of checkoff funds.

NCBA has said the accusations are without merit.