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ND Soybean Council Caught Using Checkoff Funds to Lobby, Farm Action Fund Calls on Congress to Pass OFF Act

— November 27, 2023

The misuse would have been prevented by the OFF Act’s prohibition on contracting checkoff funds to groups that lobby on ag policy, Farm Action Fund said.

Washington, D.C. — The North Dakota State Auditor’s Office released an audit revealing the North Dakota Soybean Council’s illegal use of federal soybean checkoff funds to lobby on agriculture policy.

The $85,000 in question was used in part to compensate staff who, in addition to educating policymakers, also spent time testifying on legislation.

In response, Farm Action Fund released the following statement which can be attributed to Joe Maxwell, a farmer and president of Farm Action Fund:

“Hat’s off to the North Dakota State Auditor’s Office for blowing the whistle on this blatant misuse of taxpayer dollars. This incident clearly illustrates why checkoff money shouldn’t go to any groups that lobby on agriculture policy.

“As the government agency tasked with overseeing the checkoff and safeguarding farmers from this kind of abuse, USDA should have caught this. This money was under federal jurisdiction. In fact, all of the Soybean Council’s expenditures are supposed to be pre approved by the USDA, according to a 2019 MOU.

Soybean seeds. Image via Pixabay/user:pnmralex. Public domain.

“Audits remain the best way to catch this kind of wrongdoing and make sure that farmers aren’t paying groups to lobby against their own interests. The only way to do that is to pass the OFF Act.”

The bipartisan Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act is supported by more than 60 farm groups representing hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers.

Farm Action Fund is a farmer-led organization fighting corporate monopolies in agriculture. We envision a fair, sustainable, and healthy food system that empowers farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to feed their neighbors.

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