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Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act of 2020 Introduced into the House

02/10/2020

Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) has introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act of 2020 designated H.R. 5563.  This intended legislation parallels a similar Bill introduced into the Senate sponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  The proposed legislation would create additional audits and reporting for commodity boards financed by check-offs.  An important provision of the Bill would prevent Boards from cooperating with or funding organizations that engage in any form of lobbying.  According to the UEP, justifiably opposing bills constraining check-off programs, the American Egg Board would be denied the opportunity to work with numerous organizations including the School Nutrition Association.

 

There is considerable opposition to state and national check-off programs in the beef industry by independent producers’ organizations.  The representative group, R-CALF USA has alleged irregularities in the use of check-off funds and is currently involved in a number of legal actions at state level. 

 

The American Egg Board came under criticism in 2015 when it was disclosed that check-off funds and personnel were used to oppose a company introducing a vegetable-based egg substitute.  In 2007, the American Egg Board supported opponents of California Proposition #2 in contravention of legislation governing political action. In 2015 the American Egg Board underwent changes in management and has functioned since this time under the leadership of Anne L. Alonzo with strict conformity to USDA-AMS regulations.

 

Given prevailing policy in the USDA, and in recognition of the value of commodity boards among members of Congress and their constituents, it is unlikely that H.R. 5563 will receive meaningful support in the Senate. The Speaker of the House has expressed muted acceptance for changes in the control of commodity boards. A disquieting aspect is the obvious pressure exerted by welfare organizations lobbying for restrictive legislation based presumably on their avowed opposition to intensive livestock production.