May 18, 2018


US cattlemen oppose proposed amendment to Farm Bill



US cattlemen have taken exception to a proposed amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill, saying it would negatively impact agricultural producers in all 50 states who raise, buy, and sell commodities by shackling commodity research and promotion programmes commonly known as "checkoffs."


The amendment offered by US Representatives Dave Brat and Earl Blumenauer to the 2018 Farm Bill is intended to improve the transparency and accountability of commodity checkoff programmes.


However, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and more than 40 of the nation's most influential commodity trade associations claimed that it would take control away from producers and would gut the programmes that build demand for agricultural products. 


In a letter sent to Congress on Thursday, May 17, the commodity groups emphasised the amendment's "duplicative and counterproductive burdens" on producer-funded programmes.


"These sweeping prohibitions are the result of the amendment's ban on contracts with any party that engages in advocacy - even though the advocacy has nothing to do with the entity's partnership with checkoffs," the letter stated.


Restrictions include sweeping prohibitions that ban contracts with any party that engages in advocacy on agricultural issues. In practice, this would mean that self-help checkoff programmes are prohibited from collaborating with a broad range of stakeholders, including universities, public health associations, and producer education organisations.


Currently these stakeholders use checkoff dollars to support producers and consumers with critical research on food safety, nutrition, marketing, and production.


"Our members see the checkoff programmes as an investment in their families' future which they and their fellow producers have voluntarily adopted. At a time of low farm incomes, we cannot afford to lose these important programmes", the letter said.

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