Cattle producers continue to keep their eyes on the proposed Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act. Senior Director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Tanner Beymer, said the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act would be damaging to the NCBA and other organizations.
“It essentially would say that checkoffs are not allowed to contract with entities that employ a registered federal lobbyist. That is a pretty obvious attack on the National Cattle Beef Association, and other checkoffs as well, not just us,” he said.
Checkoff programs do research and promote their associated commodity. Beymer said there is concern that the OFF Act would interfere with some of that research.
“The soybean checkoff contracts with the American Lung Association to do human health research on soy-based products. The American Lung Association employs a federal lobbyist because they are a trade association. That research would have to then cease,” he said. “So, it’s a very narrow-minded view.”
He added that checkoffs are already prohibited by law from influencing public policy. In addition, the OFF Act would prohibit checkoff funds from being used to disparage other commodities, but Beymer says that’s another rule that’s already enforced by the USDA.
“So, it’s not really creating a whole lot of new ideas or introducing new ideas to this discussion. It’s expanding upon some of the existing safeguards that are already in place and working well and doing it in a very narrow-minded way that’s actually going to end up having negative consequences for the very people who pay into those checkoffs,” Beymer said.
Supporters of the OFF Act say the aim is to improve financial transparency and accountability within the checkoff organizations.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.