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R-CALF: Former Wall St. Trader, NCBA Officials Behind Smear
USAgNet - 02/08/2018

Proclaiming itself the freedom watchdog for American agriculture, the obscure nonprofit organization known as the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation (AFF) has devoted considerable resources over the past several years attempting to smear the reputation of R-CALF USA and its cattle-producing members. Most recently, the AFF began publishing a five-part series titled "Traitors in our Midst," which attempts to vilify R-CALF USA.

Particularly, the seemingly independent AFF series implies that R-CALF USA is engaged in "sabotage, disloyalty and industry treason" because of the group's ongoing legal efforts to reform the national beef checkoff program. The AFF also scorns R-CALF USA for supporting mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) and it accuses the group of consorting with groups opposed to animal agriculture and of attacking various men and women involved in the cattle industry. It also misrepresents R-CALF USA by claiming it opposes both beef and cattle imports and beef and cattle exports while its members "greedily grab all the money generated by trade," and it claims R-CALF USA is bringing in "legal hit men" to do its organizational bidding.

Despite the frequency of such abrasive accusations that are generally deemed indecent and inappropriate by mainstream organizations, the AFF series found its way into publications sympathetic to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), an organization often diametrically opposed to policy positions advocated by R-CALF USA. The Florida Cattlemen and Livestock Journal and the Nebraska Cattleman magazine are examples of NCBA-affiliated publications that are disseminating the AFF's attacks on R-CALF USA.

A public document search reveals that the AFF has only one employee: Steve Dittmer, who serves as the group's executive vice president. The group also has three board members who serve as Dittmer's employer. Unsurprisingly, Dittmer's three employers include NCBA Past President Steve Foglesong; NCBA Executive Committee Member Jon Means whose wife, Jackie, serves as a board member of the national beef checkoff program's Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB); and Jon Maddux, a former trader for Goldman Sachs of New York and former president of Cattle-Fax, which is listed on the NCBA's website as one of its four industry organizations and which shares a Colorado office building with the NCBA.

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