Editor's note: The following commentary is in response to "Op-Ed: No Smear Campaign, Unpaid Whistle Blower Retorts", a commentary by Kate Miller and "Public Justice Attorney Claims 'Smear Campaign' Against R-CALF and OCM", a commentary by David Muraskin, published by Drovers. The opinions in the commentary below are those of John Robinson, Vice President Membership and Communications, National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
David Muraskin, the activist lawyer for Public Justice and lead attorney in R-CALF’s lawsuit against the Montana Beef Council, has accused the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) of running a “smear campaign.” If NCBA was running a smear campaign Muraskin and his clients would know it. NCBA denounces attempts to weaken the checkoff, but we also don’t feel a need to step out and take a swing at every pitch they throw in the dirt and there have been plenty of them. Instead, attacks on the checkoff have caused supporters, which include nearly 75 percent of all cattlemen and women, to stand up in opposition on their own.
Muraskin cries foul to the rising tide of voices opposed to his efforts on behalf of R-CALF. He has resorted to name calling and belittling to distract the audience from the fact that he has a long history of litigating on behalf of activist groups opposed to beef producers. He denies taking HSUS money, but he has worked alongside groups like PETA, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of the Earth and others who are actively working against beef producers.
Public Justice may claim it’s not supported by HSUS. However, we know there are alliances that extend beyond just dollars and cents. Just last week the current executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), a former HSUS staffer, proudly admitted that they have partnered with HSUS, accepted their money and five years of in-kind legal work, with a value that must round into the tens of thousands of dollars. We know R-CALF and OCM frequently partner to attack the checkoff, as well as NCBA and state cattlemen’s organizations that have ties with NCBA. It doesn’t matter where the anti-agriculture dollars come from, it’s all activist money directed at weakening the beef industry.
Kathryn Miller and others are taking a stand against Muraskin and R-CALF. They are opposing the effort to undermine more than 600 volunteer beef producers who serve on state beef councils across the country. But it’s Muraskin who appears desperate and heavily outmatched in his battle of wits with Ms. Miller and her army of pro-beef industry advocates.
Ms. Miller is a grassroots beef producer from Arkansas who has engaged in a public campaign opposed to R-CALF and its propaganda effort. She is not an NCBA member and she isn’t working for NCBA. She has repeatedly been clear on both points. Instead of taking the opposition of Miller and others for what it is, a rebuke of the beef industry attack staged by outsiders, Muraskin has painted Ms. Miller as a “corporate shill,” a dismissive portrayal that is both foolish and incorrect. Ms. Miller represents a growing majority of beef producers who are tired of R-CALF’s games and attacks funded by outsiders who want to divide cattlemen and women.
NCBA stands firmly opposed to any activists who are working to damage our industry. NCBA has also been very clear in its support for the beef checkoff. The association and its volunteer leaders will continue to support the state beef councils and beef producers being attacked by Muraskin, Public Justice, R-CALF and OCM.
The reason Muraskin and his clients feel smeared is because they’ve attacked an important program that enjoys widespread support among beef producers. No orchestration was needed in this case. The backlash among cattlemen and women who support the checkoff is predictable and anyone who is surprised by it doesn’t know NCBA or the people in our business very well.
So, Mr. Muraskin, since you felt the need to make yourself clear, let me do the same. NCBA isn’t conducting a smear campaign, if we were, you’d know it. We’d put our name at the top of the page.