INHOFE INTRODUCES BILL TO IMPROVE VOLUNTARY COMMODITY CHECKOFF PROGRAMS

Legislation Will Aid Oklahoma Agricultural Community

WASHINGTON--U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today introduced his “Commodity Assessment Protection and Reform Act” (S.2866), which allows for American farmers to better affect how their voluntary commodity advocacy programs (checkoff programs) operate in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Passing this legislation will allow these voluntary commodity checkoff programs to better serve our Oklahoma farmers.” Inhofe said. “Today we have further empowered our states agricultural community to enjoy increased communication with both the U.S.D.A and the voluntary advocacy programs that work for Oklahoma’s farmers.”

A checkoff program is an industry-funded generic marketing and research program designed to increase demand for an agricultural commodity. Checkoff programs are supported entirely by their respective industry. Furthermore, all Oklahoma checkoff programs are voluntary and contribution rates vary from program to program.

Currently, if Oklahoma farmers wanted to change the level of contribution to their commodity’s checkoff program, the U.S.D.A. would be unable to collect the new contribution rate due to antiquated regulations. Senator Inhofe’s legislation would allow the state farmers to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the U.S.D.A. that would thereby allow the desired level of voluntary investment in the commodity checkoff program to be attained.

The Commodity Assessment Protection and Reform Act introduced by Senator Inhofe would amend the 2002 Farm Bill to clarify the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Commodity Credit Corporation to enter into memorandums of understanding with states regarding the collection of approved state commodity assessments on behalf of the state from the proceeds of marketing assistance loans.

Senator Inhofe’s “Commodity Assessment Protection and Reform Act” enjoys wide support from many Oklahoma farmers associations and has no known opponents nationwide.