POLITICO | Advocates Plan to Blitz Farm Country in a Bid to Include Checkoff Reforms in the Farm Bill

Reposted from: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/weekly-agriculture/2024/04/22/lawmakers-press-mexico-to-deliver-on-water-treaty-00153547

In a series of events across half a dozen states, farm groups are planning to demand reform to the checkoff program — a controversial quasi-government system some farmers have for years fought to reign in.

Farmers are required to pay into checkoff funds for commodities including beef, pork, popcorn and Christmas trees, which funds advertising and research for those commodities. (“Got Milk?” is one of the most famous checkoff promotional campaigns.) While supporters say that checkoffs support farmers and fund critical research, critics say that the programs mislead consumers and lack transparency about where the money goes.

Advocates hope that the reform bill, the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act, will be included in the farm bill.

“Addressing misuse of funds in government checkoff programs serves as a pivotal step toward advocacy and change, empowering our community to pave the way for a fairer agricultural landscape,” said JohnElla Holmes Reece, executive director of Kansas Black Farmers Association, one of the groups endorsing the campaign.

Planned around the expected markup of the House’s version of the farm bill, farmers aim to host events in Minnesota, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama and North Dakota in May and June. Organizers expect 40 to 60 attendees at each event including members of Congress and their staff.

Farm Action, an anti-monopoly farm group, is funding and organizing the “Enough is Enough” tour with the support of endorsements from 16 other groups including the American Grassfed Association, Dakota Resource Council, Pennsylvania Farmers Union and R-CALF USA.