Churning Checkoff Chafe
With your Southeast Regional Ag News, I’m Haylie Shipp. This is the Ag Information Network!
Over 130 agricultural and food groups are asking the House and Senate Ag Committees for stricter rules that govern checkoff programs. The organizations wrote committee leaders in both chambers to support the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act. The groups say the legislation would restore what they call a “minimum level” of oversight.
“Several of the mandatory checkoff programs and associated boards have well-documented histories of waste, conflicts of interest, misuse of funding, anti-competitive behavior, and other issues,” the letter says. “For these reasons, many farmers and ranchers across the country have grown disillusioned with the effectiveness of many of these checkoff programs as they operate today.”
Among changes, the legislation would prohibit checkoff programs from contracting with any organization that lobbies on agricultural policy, prohibit employees and agents of the checkoff boards from engaging in activities that may involve a conflict of interest, and require publishing of checkoff financial information.
In the bill, the term “checkoff program” means a program to promote and provide research and information for a particular agricultural commodity without reference to specific products or brands. It includes programs carried out under a number of research and promotion acts including those for cotton, beef, floral, watermelon, fresh cut flowers, and more.