Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah leads a bipartisan effort to reform agricultural checkoff programs. Lee was joined by Democrats Cory Booker, Kristen Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren, and Republican Rand Paul, in reintroducing the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act.
Checkoffs are mandatory Department of Agriculture fees assessed on a per-unit basis that fund boards designed to promote the commodity as a whole. However, Lee says, “Checkoff programs are filled with waste and often abuse those who are forced to contribute to their coffers.” Among other things, the bill would prohibit checkoff programs from contracting with any organization that lobbies on agricultural policy.
The legislation met mixed reviews from agriculture groups. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says, “The decades old beef checkoff program is ill-suited to meet the needs of today’s cattle farmers and ranchers.”
However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association responded to the legislation, “In 2021 cattle producers overwhelmingly denied a referendum to end the Checkoff.”