In a letter sent to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeen Jeffries, 129 state and national livestock, crop, and forestry organizations voiced their opposition to Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-Ind.) anti-checkoff amendment that impacts legislation funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“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.”
In July, organizations sent another joint letter to Congress rejecting the anti-checkoff amendment.
At that time, Spartz released a comment on the pushback her proposal received: “As a farmer myself, I understand the importance of promoting our commodities at home and abroad as well as more opportunities for smaller farmers,” she said in a statement from her office. “However, I see more and more corporate cronyism in agriculture with highly paid executives promoting just a few monopolies mostly owned by Brazil and China in some ag sectors, which are using child labor provided by Mexican cartels. We must demand transparency for roughly $1 billion in mandatory fees taken annually from farmers by the federal government and given to executives like USDA Secretary [Tom] Vilsack who was paid about $1 million per year between his Obama and Biden jobs by one of these boards.”
Checkoff programs are administered by the USDA and overseen by both farmers and ranchers. Checkoff boards use funding to conduct research, educate consumers, and advertise agricultural products.
“Research and promotion boards exist to develop new markets and strengthen existing channels for specific commodities while conducting important research and promotional activities,” reads the letter. “For every dollar invested into a commodity checkoff, producers see several more in return.”