Dear Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Boozman, Chairman Thompson, and Ranking Member Scott:
The undersigned organizations (collectively, “the Trade Associations”) write today in strong opposition to S. 557 and H.R. 1249, the deceptively titled Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act. If enacted, this legislation would substantially undermine our members’ ability to promote U.S. agriculture- and natural resource-based commodity products.
The Trade Associations represent American farmers, ranchers, foresters, and processors of raw materials.
Each of these industries plays a critical and irreplaceable role in the U.S. economy through the production of food, fiber, and other essential goods–all while creating jobs, stewarding resources, and supporting local communities across the country.
The OFF Act targets commodity research and promotion boards, better known as “checkoff” programs. Checkoffs were established at the urging of the producers of their respective product.
While each individual program operates in a manner uniquely crafted to suit the needs of that specific commodity, generally, a small portion of the sales receipts of that commodity is allocated to a research and promotion board overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Research and promotion boards exist to develop new markets and strengthen existing channels for specific commodities while conducting important research and promotional activities.
They also work to educate consumers on behalf of a particular commodity to expand total demand to the benefit of all producers.
Using the pooled resources and stakeholder investments obtained through checkoff assessments, they promote the product as a whole to create an industry-wide benefit through increased sales, consumer awareness, and higher overall demand. For every dollar invested into a commodity checkoff, producers see several more in return.
To read the entire letter and the groups involved click here.