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Groups Want Checkoff Reform

Over 80 organizations recently sent letters to both the Senate and House of Representatives calling on lawmakers to fix the government’s “failed commodity tax support programs.” The 80 organizations represent over 250,000 farmers, ranchers, and businesses that want recently introduced legislation passed by both chambers and signed into law. The letters say the legislation would bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the programs. The legislation comes in two separate bills introduced in both chambers. The “Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act” would put an end to the most egregious abuses by the boards of federally mandated checkoff programs. The “Voluntary Checkoff Act” has also been introduced, with the goal of ensuring that no farmer is forced to pay money to programs that do not promote their market segment.

The letters were signed by organizations including the National Farmers Union, Organization for Competitive Markets, and R-CALF. The more than 80 groups point to the checkoff programs’ history of acting “beyond the scope of their statutory mandate.” They also accuse the USDA of lax oversight of the checkoff programs, resulting in collusion and illegal relationships between the checkoff programs and lobbying organizations. They say the groups have used checkoff funds for lobbying activities, which is strictly prohibited.

Source: NAFB News Service

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