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Feds move forward with investigation of Oklahoma beef board

Joe Wertz
StateImpact Oklahoma

*Correction: A previous version of this story was incorrect. A former accountant of the Oklahoma Beef Council is being investigated for allegedly embezzling $2.6 million from that board. This is a corrected version of the story.*

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry, reports KOSU.

A federal investigation is underway to determine whether a former accountant of the Oklahoma Beef Council has been skimming dollars out of a pool that is intended to be used for promote the industry.

An internal audit recently determined that hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of ranchers’ money have been vanishing every year for seven years. The money comes from what is called “checkoff fees,” a one-dollar-per-head fee paid every time ranchers and producers sell an animal at auction. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City confirmed the investigation, but refused to give further details.

U.S. ranchers have been complaining for years that the federal checkoff program has turned into a billion-dollar payday for international meatpacking corporations.