The bill was referred to the Senate ag committee.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service oversees about 20 checkoff programs, including the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.

According to the bill’s authors, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last year uncovered emails with potential anticompetitive activity between the checkoff-funded American Egg Board and top executives in the egg industry. The American Egg Board chief executive officer subsequently resigned. Changes proposed by the legislation are designed to improve checkoff board behavior and avoid similar conduct in the future.

The Commodity Checkoff Program Improvement Act would:

  • Prohibit checkoff programs from contracting with any organization that lobbies on agricultural policy
  • Prohibit employees and agents of the checkoff boards from engaging in activities that may involve a conflict of interest
  • Prohibit checkoff programs from engaging in anticompetitive activity, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, or any act that may be disparaging to another agricultural commodity or product
  • Require transparency through publication of checkoff program budgets and expenditures
  • Require periodic audits by the USDA inspector general for compliance with the Improvement Act
  • Require a GAO audit of checkoff program compliance and a report with further recommendations related to checkoff programs

The latest USDA Office of the Inspector General audit of the beef board’s activities posted on the USDA website is dated January 2014.


Cattle producer organizations listed in support of the bill include the American Grassfed Association; Buckeye Quality Beef; Cattle Producers of Louisiana; Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association; Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming; Missouri’s Best Beef Co-Op; Murray County, Oklahoma, Independent Cattlemen's Association; R-CALF USA; South Dakota Stockgrowers Association; and the Spokane County (Washington) Cattlemen.  end mark

Read the full text of the bill.

Dave Natzke