WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Voluntary Check-Off Program Participation Act Thursday, a bill that give would give farmers and ranchers the freedom not to participate in Department of Agriculture check-off programs.
“If farmers and ranchers want to get together and pool their resources to better promote their products, then that is the free market at its best,” Lee said. “But as soon as the power of the federal government is used to force people into a program they do not want to participate in, then that is crony capitalism at its worst.”
Check-off programs are funded through compulsory fees on producers of milk, eggs, beef, and a multitude of other agricultural products. The programs and associated boards regularly receive criticism for their lack of transparency, apparent conflicts of interest, misuse of their power, anticompetitive behavior, and other related issues.
The Voluntary Check-Off Program Participation Act would allow farmers and ranchers to participate in check-off programs if they desire to while ending the tax on those producers who would prefer not to participate in these programs.