Federal Level Checkoff Program Reform

Farmers and ranchers are being forced to pay for their own demise and their ultimate extinction.

Through a government program, farmers are mandated to pay a fee, or tax, every time they sell their products. These programs are called “checkoffs” and the funds they create were originally intended to help family farmers market their goods. Almost every agriculture commodity product has a marketing checkoff program and fee.

But today, there is a HUGE problem. Many of these programs have been hijacked by large industrial agriculture interests that use these funds to build their influence to push policy that supports industrial agriculture’s takeover of the food system, and they are used to ensure the market is rigged against the independent family farmer and rancher.

The good news is there is a solution. Legislation has been reintroduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would reform the federal checkoff programs (see our fact sheet here). The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, S. 741 & H.R. 1753, would prohibit lobbying, rein in conflicts of interest, and stop anti-competitive activities that harm other commodities and consumers. It would also force checkoff programs to publish their budgets and undergo periodic audits so that farmers and ranchers know where their hard-earned money is going. The Voluntary Checkoff Act,  S. 740 & H.R. 1752, would ensure no farmer or rancher is forced to pay fees into programs that do not promote their market segment.

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