In this file:


·         Checkoff reform bill introduced in House

·         SD Cattlemen’s Association Opposes OFF Act



Checkoff reform bill introduced in House

Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act requires additional transparency and limited funds to trade organizations that lobby.


Jacqui Fatka, BEEF Magazine

Jan 13, 2020


In a new attempt to offer checkoff reform, Rep. Dina Titus (D., Nev.) introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act to “add accountability and transparency to reform" U.S. Department of Agriculture checkoff programs, according to a statement from her office.


Checkoff programs have been instrumental in the history of agricultural advertising. Famous campaigns, such as “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” have been paid for with farmers’ checkoff tax dollars.


The legislation, H.R. 5563, would prevent USDA checkoff programs from paying organizations that lobby on agricultural issues, prohibit anticompetitive behavior, ban activity that involves a conflict of interest and require audits every five years to ensure compliance. It would also stop federally mandated funds from being used for anticompetitive programs or from being spent to disparage another commodity in the marketplace.


The OFF Act would prohibit trade organizations that lobby from receiving checkoff funds; however, this restriction does not apply to universities. Bill supporters say it would rein in conflicts of interest and stop anticompetitive activities that harm other commodities and consumers. It would also force checkoff programs to publish their budgets and undergo periodic audits so farmers and ranchers know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going.


“The USDA’s checkoff programs have operated without sufficient oversight for far too long, and this legislation will bring much-needed accountability and transparency,” Titus said. “Family farmers should not be forced to pay into organizations that sometimes lobby against their own interests and threaten animal welfare.”


“USDA’s runaway checkoff programs must be held accountable, and family farmers have a right to know where their hard-earned dollars are being spent,” Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said...


... the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), which has also received funding from The Humane Society of the United States, noted...


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SD Cattlemen’s Association Opposes OFF Act


Radio 570 WNAX (SD)

Jan 13, 2020


The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association is voicing its opposition to the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act that’s been introduced in both houses of Congress. Cattlemen’s President Eric Jennings says the measure seeks to eliminate all checkoff programs.


Supporters of the legislation say the checkoff programs are not transparent. However, Jennings refutes that claim.


He says the funds collected for the beef checkoff aren’t used to influence policy despite charges by those supporting the OFF Act.


Jennings says backers of the bill also have an anti-agriculture agenda and support...


more, including audio [2:10 min.]