Today, a coalition of 131 groups representing farmers, the food system, the environment, animal welfare, and antimonopoly advocacy called on Congress to restore accountability and transparency to commodity checkoff programs by supporting inclusion of the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act (S.557 and H.R.1249) in the 2023 Farm Bill.
Checkoff programs are funded through mandatory fees on farmers and ranchers producing milk, eggs, cattle, hogs, and many other commodities. To support their call for reform, the groups point to “well-documented histories of waste, conflicts of interest, misuse of funding, anti-competitive behavior, and other related issues” associated with checkoff programs.
“Programs entrusted with the hard-earned dollars of America’s family farmers and ranchers should maintain the highest levels of integrity and transparency,” the letter states. “[The OFF Act] is critical to restoring a minimum level of oversight.”
“America’s farmers and ranchers are tired of their checkoff tax dollars being funneled through the government and into the hands of trade and lobbying groups that work against fair competition and market transparency,” said Angela Huffman, vice president of Farm Action Fund. “It’s time to end the corruption running rampant through these programs,”
“The decades-old beef checkoff program promotes corporate control and globalization over the interests of American cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “The OFF Act will meaningfully reform all checkoff programs, including the beef checkoff program, to provide the necessary enforcements to prevent producers’ checkoff dollars from being used against them.”
The OFF Act would empower and protect farmers by reining in conflicts of interest and anticompetitive behavior. It would also improve transparency by forcing checkoff programs to publish their budgets and undergo periodic audits so that farmers and ranchers know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going.
Farm Action Fund, R-CALF, and other signers to the letter will continue to advance the cause of checkoff reform at debates and hearings toward the 2023 Farm Bill.
Dee Laninga, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-450-0094
Bill Bullard, email@example.com, 406-252-2516