Ag Policy Blog

Farm Groups Come Out Against Farm Bill Checkoff Amendment

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Commodity groups, many of which rely on checkoff funding, came out strongly against a farm bill amendment that the House of Representatives will get a chance to debate on checkoff programs.

In a letter Thursday, more than 30 farm and commodity groups criticized the bipartisan amendment by Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. The letter stated the amendment "would impose unnecessary, duplicative and counterproductive burdens on programs funded completely by producers with their own money."

The commodity groups disagreement with the amendment's premise that it would improve transparency and accountability in the checkoff programs. Instead, the farm groups state the amendment "should be soundly rejected because it takes control away from producers and will gut the programs that U.S. agriculture relies on to build demand for our products."

The farm groups added that the Brat/Blumenauer amendment would prohibit research projects at universities, public health associations and producer education associations. The amendment would effectively ban contracts with any group that engages in advocacy - such as commodity organizations that lobby Congress.

The farm groups noted that at a time of low farm incomes, the farm economy can't afford to lose these programs.

Brat issued a news release Thursday noting his amendment with Bluemenauer would establish restrictions and requirements for checkoff programs to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

"The mandatory checkoff program has a specific mission – that is to promote agricultural products – and we want to make sure that it is being used in line with that mission. This bipartisan amendment would require checkoff programs to be subject to necessary public transparency – that way the hardworking farmers and ranchers who are required to pay into these programs know their contributions are being spent in a helpful manner," Brat said. "Payments are not voluntary. In the past, funds from mandatory checkoff programs have been used to lobby against small farmers – we want to make sure since all farmers are required by federal fiat to contribute money to checkoff programs, they should be used in such a way that benefits all."

The full letter from farm groups can be found at: http://www.beefusa.org/…

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H. Clay Daulton
6/17/2018 | 11:36 AM CDT
Great opening line!!! /c
SD Farmer
5/18/2018 | 3:45 PM CDT
The system of check offs needs to be completely overhauled. They all should be refundable so the producers can hold these organizations accountable. Producer groups should also be allowed to lobby with this money, after all it is 100% producer money, not the industry's. Right now many of the organizations cannot lobby with this money, leaving them with the only money to lobby with is what the big corporations give them. This distorts the message coming from these groups, leaving them to represent the industry's billion dollar corporations more then the producers. Many cases this money can only be used for research and promotion; American farmers paying for the research and for all of the world's farmers and then American Farmers paying for it again thru tech fees. What a heist! You can see it thru these new Farm Bill dealings, another failed program! No talk of reform for producers! These non-agricultural programs need to be separated from the Farm Bill: SNAP and wildlife conservation. Do this then we will know that farmers are actually being represented, if this does not happen it proves that our voice has been sold! PS: This new Farm Bill proposed is pathetic! Again this supports we really do not have a voice for the producers!