Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Small farmers push for USDA reforms
Small farm and ranch companies and animal rights activists flew to Washington to meet with lawmakers and push for legislation they say will bring needed reforms to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At issue are mandatory USDA fees for so-called checkoff programs. Farmers and ranchers are required to pay for federal programs that help market industry products. The funds have been used for such popular and iconic campaigns as the "Got Milk" ads and the "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" campaign.
But critics say those programs promote policies for industrialized agriculture, not small farmers and ranchers. The fly-in on July 19 to 20 was organized by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society Legislative Fund.
“The least we are asking for is transparency,” Eric Swafford, Tennessee HSUS state director and a former state representative told The Hill. “No one can see how these checkoff dollars are being spent, and there is no accountability. The system is inherently broken.”
One of the bills, the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, would enforce greater transparency on how the funds are used.
The bill has bipartisan support and was introduced by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cory Booker (D- N.J.). Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.) also working on companion legislation in the House.
“Federal checkoff programs -- which impose a mandatory tax on farmers and ranchers -- are in desperate need of reform,” Booker told The Hill. “Checkoff programs need to do a better job of spending their dollars in ways that benefit small family farmers, and the legislation that Senator Lee and I have introduced will increase transparency and help restore trust in checkoff program practices.”...more