FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2017
Media Contact: Angela Huffman, 614-390-7552
OCM to Secretary Perdue: Clean Up Past Administration’s Checkoff Failures
OCM requests meeting with Sonny Perdue, urges reform at AMS
LINCOLN, NE – In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) requested a meeting to discuss and highlight abuses within the commodity Research & Promotion (checkoff) programs which occurred during the previous administration. The meeting request follows the discovery that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to file federally mandated dairy checkoff reports for the past five years, and it comes as Perdue considers placing the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) under the same office that has so grossly mismanaged the checkoff programs.
For years, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has failed to do its job to provide basic safeguards for the nearly $750,000,000 in farmers’ and ranchers’ checkoff tax dollars. OCM has fought for over five years for the release of USDA documents related to a 2012 AMS audit of the beef checkoff program following the discovery of over $200,000 in wrongdoing during the equivalent of a nine-day period. The egg checkoff constructed an illegal effort to persuade government regulators and retailers to halt sales of “Just Mayo” brand products, and the pork checkoff funneled $60 million in tax dollars to the National Pork Producers Council to fuel prohibited lobbying activity under the guise of paying for a trademark that is no longer in use.
OCM president Mike Weaver said, “Secretary Perdue has a unique opportunity. It was the previous administration that failed the farmers and Perdue now has a chance to make these programs work for those who are paying these taxes. He could order the release of the dairy and beef checkoff documents and reports today.”
As Secretary Perdue considers turning over the administration of GIPSA to AMS, OCM requests immediate attention to this issue and requests a meeting to give America’s farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers a chance to be heard. OCM has concerns that AMS will not adequately enforce the GIPSA market safeguards that would protect family farmers against abusive corporate practices by the very industry that seems to be controlling AMS’s decisions. In its letter, OCM requests that Perdue delay his final decision to move the administration of GIPSA to AMS until the conclusion of this meeting.