Family farms vote to end pork checkoff
Beth Steeve, Clarinda, Letter to the Editor 12:01 a.m. CDT September 15, 2015
Checkoff now funds lobbying to support CAFOs and hog confinements at the cost of family hog farmers
Register file photo (Photo: Des Moines Register)
In 1985, Congress created the National Pork Board and provided funding with a farmer/producer “checkoff” fee for every pig sold. The board was designed to advertise and promote pork. Sounds fair, doesn’t it, that if an industry benefits from promotion and advertising, it should pay for it?
Currently the “checkoff” for pork is 40 cents of every $100, and has ended up being a windfall for the pork industry. While this looks great, the number of family farms continues its steep decline. Amid controversy, the farmers voted to cancel the checkoff in 2000. The USDA ignored the vote. Instead, it created the National Pork Producers Council and diverted the money into that — where it is used to lobby for corporate hog interests.
What that means is that the checkoff now funds lobbying to support hog confinements that are damaging our water supplies and our environment at the cost of family hog farmers who continue to be squeezed out of the business. The Humane Society of the United States has now sued to end the illegal diversion of the checkoff funds, but, as a family farmer, I ask the USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack to end this corrupt checkoff program now, rather than wait for a court order.
— Beth Steeve, Clarinda