Oct 2, 2023Amendment aimed at checkoff programs fails to pass U.S. House
An amendment opponents said would undermine commodity checkoff programs was defeated last week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The National Potato Council joined more than 100 national and state agricultural groups to argue against an amendment to the House FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations Bill introduced by Reps. Victoria Spartz and Thomas Massie. The amendment would have prevented the USDA from implementing checkoff programs, industry-funded organizations that promote agricultural products and support America’s growers and ranchers.
In debate Sept. 27, Spartz and Massie cited a lack of transparency and accountability in government checkoff programs. House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn Thompson argued against the amendment, saying that checkoffs “are voluntarily created by producers, for producers, and they don’t receive taxpayer dollars for any of their activities, or for USDA oversight of their activities.”
Thompson did allow that increased transparency in checkoff programs may be needed but said: “I just see the farm bill process as the appropriate path forward for that.”
The amendment was defeated by a roll-call vote of 49-377.
“The Spartz amendment was just the latest attempt to shut down or severely limit the activities of grower-funded and -led agricultural research and promotion boards,” RJ Andrus, NPC president, said in a statement. “NPC will continue to fight against any and all attempts to undermine vital agricultural research and impair promotion programs, particularly in highly competitive foreign markets.”
The potato industry opposed an amendment to the FY24 Ag Appropriations Bill that would have struck a longstanding provision requiring USDA to treat potatoes equally to other vegetables in accessing the school breakfast program.
Current regulations require the serving of other vegetables before potatoes and limit their overall access in the school breakfast program. For six years, the Agriculture Appropriations Bill has maintained a provision that prevents USDA from enforcing limitations on potatoes.
The amendment was ruled not in order by the House Rules Committee, preventing it from being considered on the House floor.
“Given their low cost and flexibility, the U.S. potato industry is committed to ensuring that potatoes remain a key part of school nutrition professionals’ breakfasts for children across the country and served with other vegetables to encourage healthy eating,” Dean Gibson, NPC vice president of legislative affairs, said.