New bill takes aim at checkoff programs

Cattle

Several bipartisan lawmakers have introduced a bill taking aim at Commodity Checkoff Programs. It is called the “OFF act”, or Opportunities for Fairness in Farming.

It was filed by U.S. Reps. Nancy Mace, (R) South Carolina, and Dina Titus, (D)- Nevada, and U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, (R)-Utah, Cory Booker, (D)-New Jersey, Rand Paul, (R)-Kentucky, Elizabeth Warren, (D)-Massachusetts, and Kirsten Gillibrand, (D)-New York.

Crafters of the bill say it is designed to bring reform and accountability to the Checkoff programs which they say are plagued with scandals and misuse of funds intended to help the industry.

The NCBA has condemned the bill.

“In 2021 cattle producers overwhelmingly denied a referendum to end the Checkoff with detractors coming nowhere near the required signatures to petition for the termination of this vital program. The Beef Checkoff has a long track record of support among cattle producers,” NCBA president and South Dakota cattleman Todd Wilkinson said.
“Congress has plenty of work to do that could be far more beneficial to Americans. They should focus in areas of urgent need, rather than wasting time on these unwelcome “reform efforts,” that would only benefit anti-agriculture activists.”

R-CALF has thrown their support behind the proposed legislation.

“The decades old beef checkoff program is ill-suited to meet the needs of today’s cattle farmers and ranchers, in fact, the program promotes corporate control and globalization over the interests of America’s cattle producers. We applaud these Senators and Representatives for introducing this legislation to meaningfully reform the beef checkoff program so it can begin working for, rather than against, American cattle producers,” R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said.

This is not the first time this bill has been introduced. It was first seen during the 115th Congress during 2017.

Story via USDA

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