November 11, 2009

Decision unanimous to protect checkoff funds

The Nebraska legislature's Appropriations Committee today agreed to recommend that the Legislature not authorize a transfer of money from several state checkoff boards to help balance the state's budget.

Checkoffs that were on the list to have money transferred from their accounts to the general fund included corn, grain sorghum, poultry and egg, potato development, winery and grape, wheat and dry bean.

According to this update from the Journal Star, the checkoffs were looking at a combined transfer of $1.2 million.

The Omaha World Herald reported that appropriations committee members voted without dissent to leave the commodity checkoff funds untouched. The committee also voted to spare brand inspection funds.

Nebraska Farm Bureau president Keith Olsen said his group welcomes reports of the appropriations committee decision to leave the commodity checkoff programs untouched.

"The checkoff programs were initiated by farmers as a self-help investment tool to fund research, education and promotion of their commodities," he said, noting that checkoffs are an investment farmers make in the future of agriculture.

"To have transferred the dollars to assist with the state's budget problems would have undermined the integrity of the programs," he said.

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