Billings, Mont. | Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); and Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) reintroduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act (OFF Act). The OFF Act will reform all commodity checkoff programs, including the beef checkoff program.
The bill finds that “although the laws establishing checkoff programs broadly prohibit the use of funds in any manner for the purpose of influencing legislation or government action, checkoff programs have repeatedly been shown to use funds to influence policy directly or by partnering with organizations that lobby; the unlawful use of checkoff programs funds benefits some agricultural producers while harming many others.”
If passed the OFF Act would:
Prohibit checkoff programs from contracting with any organization that lobbies on agricultural policy.
Prohibit employees and agents of the checkoff boards from engaging in activities that may involve a conflict of interest.
Establish uniform standards for checkoff programs that prohibit anticompetitive activity, unfair or deceptive acts, or any act or practice that may be disparaging to another agricultural commodity or product.
Require transparency through publication of checkoff program budgets and expenditures.
Require periodic audits of compliance with the act by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General.
Require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of checkoff board compliance and a report with further recommendations related to checkoff programs.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement in support of the bipartisan and bicameral 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.
“The OFF Act will provide the necessary accountability and transparency to prevent the misuse of producers’ checkoff dollars.”
You can read the full text of the legislation here.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or call 406-252-2516 for more information.