Language exempting checkoff programs from federal public records law was added to the pending Fiscal Year 2017 Ag Appropriations bill after a coalition of agricultural groups lobbied for the addition. The coalition pressed Congress to add the language which states that, because funding for checkoff organizations is provided by producers, “the House urges USDA to recognize such boards as not subject to U.S. Code Section 552.” Section 552 pertains to Freedom of Information Act requests. Several agricultural groups penned a letter to a House Agriculture subcommittee stating that including the language in the Appropriations Bill will ensure that producer resources are focused on research and promotion activities. The coalition in favor of the language includes the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. However, USDA stated on Tuesday that the language “wouldn’t work” because, according to USDA, the agency is bound by laws passed by Congress, including the Freedom of Information Act. The 2017 Ag Appropriations bill still needs final approval from the full House. Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to consider appropriation bills starting next week.
Source: NAFB News Service