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Pocan Pushing Legislation to Reform Ag Checkoff Programs
USAgNet - 02/17/2020

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan is one of the co-sponsors of a bill that would create a system of financial controls and transparency to reform USDA's agricultural checkoff programs. The 'Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act' would require checkoff programs to publish budgets and undergo an annual audit of their accounting practices.

The Madison Democrat says checkoffs were intended to help promote farm products by using the producers' own money, but many times the funds are diverted by the trade associations that manage them for salaries and lobbying activities that often go against the wishes of family farmers.

Several checkoffs have been in the news in recent years due to backlash by their constituents for various reasons. For example the top executives of Dairy Management Inc., including former U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, are being criticized for earning close to a million dollars a year despite the fact that many dairy farmers are going out of business. And the American Egg Board was called out for using its assessment funds to protest a mayonnaise product that's being marketed to the vegan community.

The measure is also being sponsored by Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz. An identical bill has been sponsored in the Senate.

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