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Rep. Mace Joins Sens. Lee, Booker, Paul, Warren, and Others in Introducing ‘Checkoff Reform’ Legislation to Prevent Agriculture Trade Groups from Treating Farmers’ Money as Political Slush Fund



Press Release

Today, Animal Wellness Action (AWA), the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), the Center for a Humane Economy (CHE), and the National Dairy Producers Organization (NDPO) applauded U.S. Reps. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., and U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for introducing the bicameral, bipartisan, Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act.

The measure is designed to reform and bring accountability and transparency to reform the USDA’s Commodity Checkoff Programs that have long been plagued by scandal after scandal for misappropriation of funds, lack of transparency, and misusing farmer and rancher tax dollars and was first introduced in the 115th Congress. Proponents of the OFF Act argue that national livestock trade associations work against the best interests of rank-and-file family farmers and work to benefit the industrial agriculture and international processors.

“We applaud Reps. Mace and Titus as well as Sens. Lee, Booker, Paul, Warren, and Gillibrand for their tireless work and leadership on the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and board secretary at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “USDA’s commodity checkoff programs remain under fire because of their lack of transparency, misuse of funds, and damaging anti-competitive practices that have bankrupted millions of American farmers.”

“Industrial agriculture is sucking up family farmers’ hard-earned dollars and using those funds against the interests of the very producers it was designed to represent,” said U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. “The support for the OFF Act is overwhelming, with more than 80 farm organizations, representing over 250,000 family farmers and ranchers, cheering on the measure alongside groups like Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. We hope to secure enactment of this legislation as a rider to the upcoming Farm Bill to save our American family farmers in peril.”

“American family farmers are in peril, and today, every cent counts,” said Taylor Haynes, president at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “If we’re going to be forced to pay into USDA’s checkoff programs then the very least we should expect is transparency, accountability, and oversight of our hard-earned dollars, and the OFF Act accomplishes just that.”

“Checkoff programs are filled with waste and often abuse those forced to contribute to their coffers. These common-sense reforms will ensure that checkoff funds promote and protect all ag producers (big and small) who are meant to be served by these programs,” said U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

“The OFF Act was first introduced in the 115th Congress, and here we are in the 118th Congress still working for transparency and accountability to reform the USDA’s commodity checkoff programs,” said Deborah Mills, chairwoman of the National Dairy Producers Organization. “This speaks volumes about what frustrates producers who are paying into checkoff programs. The recipients of the checkoff dollars are the greatest proponents of maintaining the status quo. Producers are being denied the basic right to have their questions about their investment answered.”

“I don’t want my hard-earned dollars funneled to a quasi-governmental organization that works against my best interest and represents industrial agriculture’s continued movement toward the monopolization of farming,” said Will Harris, past president of the American Grassfed Association and proprietor of White Oak Pastures. “We’ve farmed the same land in Georgia since 1866, and I want to ensure that future generations are able to continue to do the same.”

“Farmers and Ranchers are being forced to pay into checkoff programs that often advocate against their best interest and support food system consolidation. These programs need transparency and oversight so a farmer can be sure they aren’t required to fund their own demise,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. “That is why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help increase transparency and prohibit conflicts of interest and anti-competitive practices in these programs.”

The text of the House bill can be found here and Senate companion can be found here. A link to Rep. Mace’s recorded video from the press conference today can be found here.

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