49 U.S. Reps. Including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ilhan Omar, Vote Together in Support of Spartz-Massie Amendment to Reform Corrupt Checkoff System.
Washington, D.C. — On September 27, the U.S. House of Representatives considered an amendment led by Reps. Victoria Spartz, R-IN, and Thomas Massie, R-KY, to H.R. 4368, the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations Act that brought great attention to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s scandal-ridden Commodity Checkoff Programs. These quasigovernmental organizations help fund much of the annual budget at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), Dairy Management, Inc., that continue to lobby for policies that have proven to be harmful to producers like the repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).
The Organization for Competitive Markets, Competitive Markets Action, Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, and National Dairy Producers Organization supported the Spartz-Massie Amendment that unfortunately failed to pass the chamber closest to the American people by a vote of 377 to 49 with 13 Members not voting.
Tuesday night’s House floor debate on the amendment brought light to the lack of transparency and accountability in the checkoffs, as well as the long list of scandals within the programs. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson opened the door for a debate on checkoff reform with his comments: “Increasing transparency is not unacceptable. I just see the farm bill process as the appropriate path forward for that.”
“That’s how we measure the depth of the swamp – almost 400 people deep,” said Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-IN. “Thank you to the 49 of my colleagues who are willing to stand with Main Street – not K Street or Wall Street!”
“The commodity checkoff program has gone rotten,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY. “Let’s get power back to local farmers and away from D.C. lobbyists.”
“We applaud the valiant efforts of Reps. Spartz, Massie, and the 47 other Members of the House that had the courage to stand strong against multinational conglomerates and those in the swamp who seek to increase consolidation in the marketplace,” said Taylor Haynes, President of the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The fight for checkoff reform is only just beginning and we hope those who voted for this amendment will cosponsor the OFF Act and support an audit of the checkoff programs by USDA’s Office of Inspector General.”
“Dairy producers across America are going out of business on a daily basis and the suicide rate in dairy production is higher than any other sector – including Veterans,” said Deborah Mills, Chairwoman of the National Dairy Producers Organization, and a Director at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “We don’t stand a chance against industrial agriculture or a Chinese takeover of our food system without checkoff reform and I hope Americans wake up before it’s too late.”
“Many thanks to Reps. Spartz and Massie for having the guts to stand up to those who continue to oppress and try to stamp out the last few independent family farmers in America,” said Jonathan Buttram, President of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association and Treasurer at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “If we’re going to stand a fighting a chance at survival then we must soon see checkoff reform.”
“Since the inception of these programs, illegal relationships between checkoff boards and lobbying organizations have formed,” said Mike Schultz, Founder of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, and Vice-President at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been misused, and these checkoff programs, as they are currently being managed, do not work in the best interests of independent family farmers.”
“When Members of Congress like Lauren Boebert, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ilhan Omar all vote together for reform you know something must be very, very wrong with this corrupt system,” said Marty Irby, President at Competitive Markets Action and Secretary at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “We applaud both Reps. Spartz, Massie, and their 47 brave colleagues who stood up against the destruction of American food production and hope that the Upper Chamber brings resolution to this matter in the Farm Bill.”
The Members of Congress who voted for the Spartz-Massie Amendment include 28 Republicans and 21 Democrats including Reps. Don Beyer, D-VA; Andy Biggs, R-AZ; Earl Blumenauer, D-OR; Lauren Boebert, R-CO; Jamaal Bowman, D-NY; Tim Burchett, R-TN; Michael Burgess, R-TX; Andrew Clyde, R-GA; Mike Collins, R-GA; Eli Crane, R-AZ; Rosa DeLauro, D-CT; Mark DeSaulnier, D-CA; Lloyd Doggett, D-TX; Byron Donalds, R-FL; Dwight Evans, D-PA; Virginia Foxx, R-NC; Maxwell Frost, D-FL; Matt Gaetz, R-FL; Chuy Garcia, D-IL; Bob Good, R-VA; Paul Gosar, R-AZ; Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA; Harriet Hageman, R-WY; Andy Harris, R-MD; Diana Harshbarger, R-TN; Jared Huffman, D-CA; Hank Johnson, D-GA; Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-CA; John Larson, D-CT; Summer Lee, D-PA; Ted Lieu, D-CA; Thomas Massie, R-KY; Tom McClintock, R-CA; Alex Mooney, R-WV; Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-DC; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY; Andy Ogles, R-TN; Ilhan Omar, D-MN; Scott Perry, R-PA; Ayanna Pressley, D-PA; Jamie Raskin, D-MD; Matt Rosendale, R-MT; Chip Roy, R-TX; George Santos, R-NY; David Schweikert, R-AZ; Victoria Spartz, R-IN; Rashida Tlaib, D-MI; Jeff Van Drew, R-NJ; and Roger Williams, R-TX.
For the past decade independent family farmers have supported numerous checkoff reforms including the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, H.R. 1249/S. 557, led by Sens. Mike Lee, R-UT, Cory Booker, D-NJ, Rand Paul, R-KY, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and are currently seeking to secure the bill’s inclusion in the upcoming Farm Bill. OFF would reform the checkoffs by requiring transparency so farmers are able to see where the tax dollars they pay are being spent; would prohibit anti-competitive practices in the marketplace like the use of slogans such as “Pork the Other White Meat;” and would codify a Supreme Court decision that prohibits checkoffs from utilizing funds for lobbying purposes. Checkoff’s have long-lobbied for harmful policies like the repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) that have decimated American family farmers and cattle prices. OFF is supported by more than 200,000 farmers and ranchers across America and groups like The Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, and National Taxpayers Union to name a few.
The groups will continue to press for the enactment of the OFF Act in the Farm Bill and work to secure a USDA OIG Audit of the checkoff programs following current requests for an updated report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that was first ordered in 2017 by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.
The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Lincoln, Nebraska. The foundation of the Organization for Competitive Markets is to fight for competitive markets in agriculture for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. True competition reduces the need for economic regulation. Our mission, and our duty, is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.
Competitive Markets Action (CMA) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that was formed with the mission of shaping policy to promote more regenerative and sustainable agriculture, and competitive markets in the U.S., and to defend against attacks on states’ rights by the federal government. CMA works to raise awareness of the harm caused by multinational conglomerates to the American family farmer, the consumer and our U.S. economy as a whole in an effort to bring about legislative and regulatory reforms.
The Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association (ALCPGA) is a group of independent poultry producers that have come together to find ways of making our industry stronger, more efficient, and more economical. They have implemented an LP Gas program to lower the cost of gas that each producer purchases. This enables the producer to save on their heating bill, and still produce healthy poultry.