Advertisements with slogans like “Incredible Edible Egg,” “Pork: The Other White Meat,” “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner,” and “Got Milk?” promote industries (mostly Big Meat and Big Dairy), without ever mentioning a specific company or brand. Who pays for those ads?
The money comes from Research & Promotion (R&P) programs, commonly referred to as checkoff programs. Set up under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), checkoff programs require producers of agricultural commodities to contribute a percentage of sales to the program, which in turn provides research and promotion, including ads, to help expand the market for products like meat, milk and eggs.
Now the USDA, with support from the Organic Trade Association (OTA), wants to establish a similar mandatory “checkoff” program for organic producers.
Good idea? The Big Food corporations that are buying up organic brands (and calling a lot of the shots at OTA), say yes. But small organic producers and family farmers say that an organic checkoff program will be bad for them, and bad for consumers.