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Farm Action Fund Statement on Checkoff Congressional Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Farm Action Fund called into question checkoff return on investment (ROI) evaluations cited by a recently introduced congressional resolution in support of checkoff programs.

“We fully support the spirit of commodity checkoff programs and the returns they should bring to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Christian Lovell, Senior Director of Programs at Farm Action Fund and an Illinois cattleman. “Unfortunately, with limited accountability too many of these farmer-paid dollars are doled out to corporate-aligned lobbying groups who often find themselves at odds with family farmers’ interests.”

“These same lobbying groups—who receive millions of checkoff dollars annually—tout large return on investment figures to justify this broken system,” continued Lovell. “But these studies overstate returns to farmers by routinely using retail prices in their calculations. No farmer I know receives retail prices at harvest or when selling livestock. Cleary checkoffs are working for corporate meatpackers and retailers, but not American farmers and ranchers.”

But the use of retail prices in checkoff ROI evaluations is not the only reason their validity is questioned. A previous investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that checkoff ROI evaluations lack consistency and have “methodological limitations” that can “overstate the programs’ benefits.”

Farm Action Fund is one of more than 60 farm organizations encouraging members of Congress to support the bipartisan Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act (S.557 and H.R.1249) in the 2023 Farm Bill and restore accountability and transparency to commodity checkoff programs.

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