WASHINGTON (September 26, 2023) – In a letter sent today to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) alongside 129 leading state and national livestock, crop, and forestry organizations voiced its opposition to Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-IN) anti-checkoff amendment to legislation that funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Spartz amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act attacks commodity checkoff programs, which are industry-led organizations that exist to promote agricultural products and support America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers.
“As a cattle producer, I am proud to pay into the Beef Checkoff because I know my $1 is doing more for our entire industry than I could do on my own,” said NCBA President Todd Wilkinson, a South Dakota cattle producer. “I urge Congress to stand with real farmers and ranchers over activists and reject Rep. Spartz’s attack on checkoff programs. Our future depends on the investments we make now, and the Beef Checkoff is the strongest tool we have to keep beef on consumers’ plates, strengthening the cattle industry today and for the next generation.”
Checkoff programs are administered by USDA and overseen by farmers and ranchers to promote different agricultural commodities. While the structure of each checkoff is unique to the individual commodity, checkoff boards all pool assessments from producers and use that funding to conduct research, raise consumer awareness, and build higher demand for agricultural products. By promoting these products, checkoffs ensure that future generations of farmers and ranchers can build a strong livelihood in agriculture.
The national organizations that signed on to the letter include the Almond Alliance, American Beekeeping Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers Association, American Mushroom Institute, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Wood Council, Clean Fuels Alliance America, Corn Refiners Association, International Fresh Produce Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Christmas Tree Association, National Cotton Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pecan Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Potato Council, National Sorghum Producers, National Watermelon Association, North American Blueberry Council, North American Meat Institute, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Soy Aquaculture Alliance, Soy Transportation Coalition, United Egg Producers, and U.S. Peanut Federation. Additionally, 100 state organizations including NCBA affiliates joined the letter.
Together, these groups represent millions of hardworking farmers, ranchers, and foresters across the entire United States.
Below, you can view other organization statements and releases on this story:
Almond Alliance: “In an era where cultivating relationships between consumers and producers is paramount, the Spartz Amendment jeopardizes the very essence of what checkoff programs aim to achieve. These programs, rooted in transparency and backed by the commitment of dedicated producers, have fostered innovation, expanded markets, and amplified consumer education. By challenging the essential framework of commodity checkoffs, we risk not only the immediate benefits they offer, but also the long-term growth and understanding of our agricultural communities,” said Almond Alliance CEO and President Aubrey Bettencourt. “Almond Alliance stands united with our partners in opposing any measure that hinders the progress and welfare of U.S. agriculture producers. We urge a ‘NO’ vote on the Spartz Amendment.”
American Sheep Industry Association: “Our industry has overwhelmingly approved our American lamb checkoff twice in national referendums, both on producer and production counts,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Brad Boner, a Wyoming sheep producer. “It is poor policy to change the rules after we built a program that fits our producers, feeders and processors.”
American Soybean Association: “Congresswoman Spartz’s amendment is a direct attack on all checkoffs and, close to home, threatens the long-term viability of our industry’s successful program. Our soy checkoff continues to have strong support from hundreds of thousands of soy farmers across the United States, and that is proven time and again when the program comes up for referendum every five years,” said Daryl Cates, president of the American Soybean Association. “Soybean farmers understand the significant role the checkoff plays in developing and protecting markets for their crops, conducting research and promotion to sustain their livelihoods and our environment, and keeping U.S. soy available domestically and competitive globally. This amendment is misguided and ill-informed, and we strongly urge Congress to reject this attack on U.S. farmers and ranchers.”
National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF): “Founded and governed by dairy farmers, the Dairy Research and Promotion Program provides meaningful support for American dairy producers in several critical areas including environmental stewardship, export market development and nutrition research,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We urge members of Congress to reject the Spartz amendment that would debilitate the growth and development of U.S. dairy at home and abroad.”
National Pecan Federation: “The pecan industry has greatly benefitted from the work done by the Pecan Checkoff program, and pecan growers are very supportive of this program,” said Larry Don Womack, chairman of the National Pecan Federation. “The checkoff provides critical research and market promotion that is essential to the health and longevity of the pecan industry.”
National Potato Council: “The Spartz amendment is one of several attempts to shut down or severely limit the activities of grower-funded and -led agricultural research and promotion boards,” said National Potato Council 2023 President RJ Andrus, from Idaho Falls, Idaho. “This amendment is intended to undermine vital agricultural research and impair promotion programs, particularly in highly competitive foreign markets. The National Potato Council strongly opposes these intentions to weaken or eliminate programs enacted by the grower-leadership of these boards and supported exclusively by grower funds. This attempt to prevent USDA from utilizing taxpayer dollars in its important oversight role of these boards would lessen transparency and immediately harm the communities that rely upon the benefits of their agricultural research and promotion.”
U.S. Peanut Federation: “The Peanut Checkoff program is of significant value to the peanut industry in building consumer demand and consumption for peanuts,” said U.S. Peanut Federation Chairman Jamie Brown. “Peanut producers are extremely supportive of the research and promotion work done through the peanut checkoff to advance our industry.”