FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2018
RICHMOND, VA – Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) calls on the members of the Virginia House Agriculture Subcommittee #1 to vote no on SB 374 in today’s hearing.
SB 374 is a dangerous bill that would take away government control and oversight of the federally-mandated beef checkoff tax assessment, handing the funds over to a private membership lobbying entity. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court determined these federally mandated funds are not producer funds but rather are under full control of government, making all checkoff-funded promotions of beef “government speech.” SB 374 would strip the governor of the power to appoint key positions on this state of Virginia council. Further, this legislation would increase the total checkoff tax assessment placed on Virginia cattle producers by 60% without a vote of the cattle producers who will be forced to pay into the Virginia beef checkoff program.
John Boyd, Virginia farmer and OCM board member, issued the following statement on behalf of OCM:
“SB 374 undermines our very democracy by forcing a government-mandated assessment onto the cattle producers of Virginia. Reducing the number of members on the Virginia Beef Industry Council and granting almost exclusive control of the council member selection to a single private membership lobbying organization is a recipe for disaster. Far too often the voices of minority farmers are limited in the agriculture conversation. Significantly reducing the number of council members will permanently silence these voices.”
· SB 374 would allow the officers of the Virginia Beef Industry Council to select their own officers from non-council members, bypassing Virginia governors.
· SB 374 reduces the number of individuals on the council by nearly half.
· SB 374 is based on a survey of a limited number of Virginia cattle producers and was conducted by the very organization that gains almost exclusive control of the federal and state mandated tax assessment.
· While SB 374 provides that a refund may be requested by the individuals who are mandated to pay the state fee of $1.00, the window to request each refund is only 30 days.
Media Contact: Angela Huffman, 614-390-7552
Organization for Competitive Markets is a membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.