United States Department of Agriculture
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Press Release Provided by R-Calf USA

During the first week of October a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act (OFF Act). The OFF Act will reform all checkoff programs, including the beef checkoff program.

Preceding the Senate bill’s reintroduction, a bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2021. The House version of the OFF Act is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.); and is cosponsored by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair and South Dakota Stockgrowers Association president-elect Vaughn Meyer issued the following statement regarding the bipartisan legislation.

“The OFF Act will provide the necessary enforcements to prevent producers’ hard-earned checkoff dollars from being used against them.

“As an example, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) audit reveals that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association receives nearly 82% of their revenue from mandatory producer-paid beef checkoff funds and, in turn, often supports policies that many cattle producers view as contrary to their interests and their livelihoods.

“Efforts to secure a producer referendum vote have failed throughout the Beef Checkoff program’s 35-yearlong history. This is an example of how producer-funded checkoff programs have evolved into mandatory government programs with little to no producer guidance or representation.

“The legislation is aimed at creating accountability and transparency in the USDA’s various commodity checkoff programs, including the Beef Checkoff program.

“We at R-CALF USA believe passage of the OFF Act will instill accountability and transparency through prevention of the misuse of checkoff funds. We thank these Senators and Representatives for introducing this bill aimed at creating long overdue industry safeguards.”

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