WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today 61 signing organizations sent a letter to the leadership of both Congressional Agriculture Committees in response to opposition to the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act from corporate industry trade and lobbying groups.
The OFF Act would reform checkoff programs, which are mandatory programs under the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded by compulsory fees on producers of milk, eggs, beef, pork, and many other commodities. Today’s letter was endorsed by a coalition led by R-CALF USA and Farm Action Fund and signers represent hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers who pay into checkoff programs.
The coalition of farmers and advocates wrote that not only does the industry’s letter mischaracterize the OFF Act, its authors are themselves the recipients of checkoff funds, “including the American Farm Bureau Federation (awarded at least $900,000 for FY23) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (awarded $25,720,000 for FY23).”
Today’s letter clarified that the “OFF Act does nothing to impair the ability of commodity checkoffs to fulfill their intended purpose of promoting specific commodities,” as the industry claimed, but only improves accountability and transparency. “Currently, there is almost no publicly available expenditure and budget information,” the coalition wrote.
The coalition of farmers and advocates explained that the OFF Act would remedy this lack of accountability. “Every farmer and rancher who is mandated to pay into the checkoff programs deserves no less than to know where their money is being spent and that it is properly accounted for.”