FARM GROUPS CALL OUT FAILURE OF USDA TO RELEASE FEDERALLY MANDATED DAIRY CHECKOFF REPORTS
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for the immediate release of federally mandated annual dairy checkoff spending reports, which the Secretary has not filed for the duration of his tenure.
The letter states that the reports, which are “mandated by the same legislation that authorizes the dairy checkoff program,” have not been submitted to Congress by USDA “for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022.” USDA is required by law to describe “activities conducted, accounting for the receipt and disbursement of all funds, and including an independent analysis of the effectiveness of the program.”
In explaining the importance of these reports, the letter points to the amount of money collected by the dairy checkoff program and the distressed state of the dairy producers who must pay into it. “Since USDA’s last annual report, the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program has collected nearly $1 billion in mandatory checkoff fees from dairy farmers. During the same time period, more than 6,000 dairy operations went out of business, and remaining dairy farmers continued to face economic hardship and an unprecedented farm stress crisis.”
The letter concludes by calling for “the publication of the reports or an update on their status by July 7,” and urging the Secretary to “fulfill this statutory obligation” on behalf of U.S. dairy farmers.
June 26, 2023