The controversial anti-checkoff amendment to the Ag Appropriations Bill failed before the full House last week. The amendment proposal was led by Representative Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who defended it on the House floor.
“So if you want to force farmers to pay some money, I think part of what farmers need to know where the money goes. You know? Do they promote commodities or promote very wealthy jobs for … people in fancy suits? Farmers work hard for this money,” she said. “So, my amendment has two parts. To have more transparency with trying to do the Farm Bill, but also, you know, no taxpayer’s money should be used unless we know what’s happening with this checkoff dollars.”
The amendment would have prevented taxpayer money from being used for checkoff programs. However, opponents point out that checkoffs are paid for by producer dues and no taxpayer money is going to the programs, therefore the amendment was unnecessary.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn G.T. Thompson (R-PA), gave a voice to the opposition on the House Floor.
“Research and Promotion programs, commonly referred to as checkoffs are time-tested programs that expand markets, increase consumer demand, develop new uses for those covered commodities, and quite frankly … helps to fund the resources needed to be able to deal with issues related to those crops or those commodities. These programs are voluntarily created by producers for producers, and they receive no taxpayer dollars for any other activities or for USDA oversight of their activities,” he said.
Thompson said the debate about checkoffs should be considered during Farm Bill deliberations not the current ag appropriations bill because no funds from the ag appropriations bill goes to the programs.
After a voice vote on the sparsely populated House floor was deemed in favor, Thompson requested a recorded vote, which was held the next day. The final tally was 49 in favor, 377 against.
Story courtesy Southeast AgNet