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Farm Action Fund Responds to Spartz Checkoff Amendment, Calls Out Motives of Opponents

Washington, D.C. — Today, Farm Action Fund weighed in on the heated debate spurred by Representative Victoria Spartz’s (R-IN-5) amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2024, which would prohibit the use of federal dollars to carry out checkoff programs.

The amendment drew immediate criticism from industry trade groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). The argument over Spartz’s amendment was captured by media outlets and eventually spilled over onto Twitter, with responses from Representative Spartz joined by calls for checkoff reform from Representative Massie and Senator Lee.

“We share Representative Spartz’s frustration with our nation’s corrupt checkoff programs, and thank her for putting farmers and ranchers before special interests,” said Farm Action Fund Vice President Angela Huffman. “Even more frustrating is that the groups opposed to Spartz’s amendment and any other reforms to the checkoff programs are brazenly omitting their shared conflict of interest: These lobbying organizations are all recipients of checkoff funds.”

Huffman concluded, “Groups like NCBA are working to protect their biggest source of funding, not to protect America’s farmers and ranchers.”

70% of NCBA’s budget is made up of checkoff funds, and the organization doles out about half a million dollars to its CEO alone.

Farm Action Fund has endorsed a separate legislative initiative, the bipartisan Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, which is supported by more than 60 farm groups representing hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers. Not going so far as to prohibit the use of federal dollars for checkoff programs, the OFF Act would simply bring the minimum level of transparency and accountability one would expect for a $1 billion government program.

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