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Reps. Victoria Spartz and Thomas Massie Applauded by Independent Farmers for Championing Amendment to Rein in USDA’s Scandal-Ridden Commodity Checkoffs

— October 24, 2023

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.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Organization for Competitive Markets, Competitive Markets Action, and Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association (ALCPGA), applauded U.S. Reps. Victoria Spartz, R-IN, and Thomas Massie, R-KY, for introducing an amendment (#76) to H.R. 4368, the FY24 Agriculture Appropriations Act that would fund the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies.

The Spartz-Massie amendment states “none of the funds made available by this bill may be used to carry out commodity checkoff programs,” and comes on the heels of OCM and CMA’s second Farm Bill Summit and fly-in held in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17-22, where members of OCM, CMA, ALCPGA, the American Grassfed Association, Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, National Dairy Producers Organization (NDPO), and others advocated for reforms to USDA’s Commodity Checkoff Programs in nearly 100 meetings on Capitol Hill, including an in-person meeting with Rep. Massie. The checkoff programs have long been plagued by controversy and scandals brought to light by PoliticoThe Daily Caller, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and OCM.

“As a proud American and lifelong producer, I’m elated to see our members rally and rise up to defeat industrial agriculture and their backers in China on a level never seen before,” said Jonathan Buttram, President of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association and Treasurer at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The industrial agriculture mafia is petrified of our work and the OFF Act because they see the writing on the wall and we hope they soon meet the same fate as New York’s infamous ‘Five Families.’”

“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 famers.”

“American family farmers are rising up and fighting for their livelihoods by demanding reform to USDA’s scandal-ridden checkoff programs they are forced to pay into,” said Marty Irby, President of Competitive Markets Action and Secretary at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “We applaud Reps. Spartz and Massie for their intestinal fortitude and courage in standing up to the industrial agriculture mafia that has long-hijacked the voice of independent producers, and call on the chamber closest to the American people to pass the Spartz-Massie amendment that will help save American agriculture.”

Investigation Suggests Farmers are Taking Advantage of Funds
Photo by Spencer Pugh on Unsplash

During the Farm Bill Summit, the groups advocated for the inclusion of the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, H.R. 1249/S. 557, led by Sens. Mike Lee, R-UT, Rand Paul, R-KY, Cory Booker, D-NJ, Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Reps. Nancy Mace, R-SC, and Dina Titus, D-NV, 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 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.

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