A Buck a Head book planned for 2021 release | TheFencePost.com

A Buck a Head book planned for 2021 release

Leesa Zalesky, a writer from Wahoo, Neb., said the importance of commodity checkoff programs have long been overlooked by authors, a gap that she and Diane Gumaer thought ought to be filled considering the checkoff’s role in influencing consumer consciousness.

The pair’s forthcoming book, “A Buck a Head: How a Lust For Power Polarized America’s Cattle Industry,” is a comprehensive history of the Beef Checkoff.

Zalesky, whose background is in journalism, has had a book about the checkoff in mind for a number of years.

“Commodity checkoff programs have largely escaped the scrutiny of historians over the years,” she said. “There aren’t many books about individual commodity checkoffs, you can find a lot of white papers, a lot of research out there, but it’s pretty hard to come by one thing that encapsulates the entire history of one particular commodity checkoff.”

Zalesky said in addition to the influence on consumers of the checkoff programs, they color the agricultural landscape, both economically and politically. Just like the cattle industry, she said, the checkoff has a long and storied past dating back to the 1920s when it was voluntary until it was mandated by Congress in 1985. Gathering the history within the covers of a book is a shared passion of both Zalesky and Gumaer, who are longtime friends.

Gumaer worked for the Cattleman’s Beef Board for 15 years, giving her a familiarity with the program. Zalesky said research was conducted and interviews with people whose experiences with the checkoff both when it was voluntary and after, add to the history.

A promotional post on social media said the authors’ conclusion is “that the only way to ‘fix’ today’s beef checkoff is to scrap it and start anew.”

“Facts speak for themselves,” she said. ‘Readers can draw their own conclusions.”

She said she anticipates going to press in late October with a potential January release date. ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 768-0024.

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice as a vice presidential candidate, has said she is not a protectionist and believes in trade.But she has also said she would not have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, voted against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement due to environmental concerns, and opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations from which President Donald Trump withdrew, according to media reports.At a primary debate in September 2019 when she was campaigning for president, Harris said, “I am not a protectionist Democrat. Look, we need to sell our stuff. And that means we need to sell it to people overseas. That means we need trade policies that allow that to happen.”Harris has also been critical of Trump’s trade policies, calling increased tariffs a tax on the American people.Responding to a Council on Foreign Relations questionnaire, Harris said,Trump’s “trade war is crushing American farmers, killing American jobs, and punishing American consumers.”“I would work with our allies in Europe and Asia to confront China on its troubling trade practices, not perpetuate Trump’s failing tariff war that is being paid for by hard‐working Americans,” she said.Harris’s rural platform also said that she would take executive action to re-establish the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as an independent office at the Agriculture Department and “appoint an Agriculture secretary who will prioritize enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act.”Re-establishing GIPSA has been a goal of groups that are critical of U.S. beef imports.Note: Links to Harris’s presidential campaign website have been redirected to the Biden campaign site, but the text of her “Partnership With Rural America” policy page may still be read through a web cache, at https://www.cato.org/blog/kamala-harris-trade-policy.In an analysis of Harris’s trade statements, Simon Lester of the Cato Institute wrote this week, “Where does all of that leave us? She does not seem to be an economic nationalist or isolationist, and she makes clear that she believes the United States should engage with the world economically.”“At the same time, though, the terms of that engagement are a bit uncertain. What exactly would she want to see in a trade agreement before she would sign on to it? She clearly wants more labor and environment provisions in trade agreements, although USMCA had quite a lot and she still voted against it, arguing that climate change should be covered as well.“Maybe the answer is simply that she wants to change the scope of trade agreements, so that they still promote trade liberalization, but at the same time continue their expansion towards general global governance of non‐trade issues. Vice presidents sometimes take on specific issue areas in which to play an active role. If Biden wins and Harris as VP has trade in her portfolio, we will find out more.”


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