Farm Action News Roundup: Checkoff Corruption — It’s What’s for Dinner

Plus: Learn how we can support local food systems in our upcoming webinar!

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You may be familiar with catchy phrases like “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” or “The Incredible, Edible Egg” — but what’s behind these slogans? They are actually the product of one of the most corrupt institutions in American agriculture: checkoff programs.

The checkoff is a mandatory fee that many U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers pay every time they sell any of 22 commodities, including beef, pork, milk, corn, and soybeans. The fees fund government organizations that do research and promote the product or commodity. Theoretically, the producers benefit from this research and promotion. The trouble is, these programs take money from every producer, but they don’t benefit every producer — and in fact do demonstrable harm to some.

The checkoff has evolved into a behind-the-scenes machine that extracts money from farmers and ranchers against their will and then funnels it to corporate lobbyists — who work tirelessly to consolidate power over our entire food system into a few hands. Read our new “Root of the Issue” blog to learn more about this serious threat to our food system, and what we’re doing about it.


Join us in standing up for America’s farmers and ranchers! The Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act (OFF Act) is critical to restoring transparency and accountability to checkoff programs, and keeping them out of the hands of trade and lobbying organizations. Simply fill out a quick form to ask your legislators to cosponsor the OFF Act today and to support its inclusion in the 2023 Farm Bill.


Farm Action’s new Senior Director of Programs, Christian Lovell, provides leadership and direction for Farm Action’s programs to advance a more just food system.
Previously, Christian spent nearly a decade working on federal agricultural policy in Washington, D.C. and served as Legislative Director to U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro during her time as Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. He also held other roles at the National Governors Association, The World Bank, and Informa Economics Group.
Christian is a native of West Central Illinois where he now resides and manages his family’s Registered Hereford cattle herd. He passionately advocates for regenerative grazing and is actively involved in the Illinois Grazing Lands Coalition.


Nik Popli, TIME

How Food Companies’ Massive Profits Are Making Your Groceries More Expensive

“Today a primary cause of food inflation in this country is the market concentration that allows for price gouging,” says Farm Action’s Joe Maxwell.

Joseph Curl, The Daily Wire

Eggs-Tortion? Profits For Largest U.S. Egg Producer Soar 718%

In its letter to the FTC, Farm Action says the “real culprit” behind sky-high egg prices is a “collusive scheme” among top U.S. egg producers to fix prices to gouge consumers.

Luke Goldstein, The American Prospect

Farmers Pay Big Ag to Lobby Against Them

“America’s farmers and ranchers are tired of their checkoff tax dollars being funneled through the government and into the hands of trade and lobbying groups that work against fair competition and market transparency,” said Farm Action’s Angela Huffman.

Kevin Haggerty, American Wire

Large Egg Companies Accused of ‘Extortion’ for Spiking Prices Over 700% for Profits

Farm Action issued a letter to the FTC calling for an investigation into the rising prices of eggs in January.

Jeff Louderback, The Epoch Times

After Reaching Record Levels, Egg Prices Drop Steeply in March as Price Gouging Allegations Linger

Farm Action’s Dee Laninga said she finds it odd that Cal-Maine continues to blame the avian flu on production costs when the company has not reported a positive test at any of its facilities.


Build Local, Eat Local: Supporting Regional Food Systems in the Farm Bill

Tuesday, April 18, 5 p.m. ET

A food system controlled by multinational corporations threatens our food supply and national security. In the second webinar in Farm Action’s farm bill series, learn from a panel of farm and policy experts about how we can rein in Big Ag’s power and create resilient local and regional food systems:

The Farm Bill and Factory Farms

Tuesday, April 18, 8 p.m. ET
Farm Action’s Joe Maxwell will discuss how CAFOs benefit from current farm bill programs and how the 2023 Farm Bill could better support independent livestock farms in this upcoming webinar hosted by Jefferson County Farmers and Neighbors.


“Food has to be a policy issue, not a profit issue,” said Donna Pearson McClish at Farm Action’s Food Not Feed Summit in February.
Donna is the founder and CEO of Common Ground Producers and Growers, which provides access to healthy, local foods to both urban and rural families. At the Summit, she discussed how expanding access to fresh foods helps create healthier communities and families.
Listen to Donna’s take on why we need to support food, not feed in the 2023 Farm Bill in our new video.


Here’s what the Farm Action team has been reading:

A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that the biggest contributors to rising food prices were food processing and retail trade, reports CBS news. “A major factor that goes unnoticed in this analysis is the role of profits,” the outlet notes.

Some American farmers say the U.S. should agree to sell Mexico non-GM corn, reports Reuters. "It seems to me like the secretary and this administration are not standing up for all farmers," said Greg Gunthorp, an Indiana farmer who feeds non-GM corn to his livestock to produce premium meat products. "What they’re really standing up for is the big companies."

A new report from U.S. PIRG shows that Right to Repair laws could save U.S. farmers $4.2 billion per year by providing them with independent repair options.

Federal agencies could foster more competition in government contracting markets by instituting basic ethics and eligibility standards, writes Toni Aguilar Rosenthal of the Revolving Door Project. The government has continued to contract with corporations like JBS, turning a blind eye to unlawful abuses of child labor and other workers, systemic underpayments of family farmers, and food safety violations.

Written and edited by: Jessica Cusworth, Dee Laninga, and Angela Huffman


Farm Action leverages its research, policy development, and advocacy campaigns to create a food and agriculture system that works for everyday people rather than a handful of powerful corporations. Our political partner organization, Farm Action Fund, is building the political muscle to take action in our state and federal capitols and at the ballot box.
Together, our two organizations represent a seamless chain of action from research and policy development, to the adoption of the policy through legislative action by elected officials who support our vision.
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