By John Lauinger | 09/14/2017 05:45 AM EDT
With help from Catherine Boudreau, Megan Cassella, Jenny Hopkinson, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Doug Palmer and Christine Haughney
DAIRY CHECKOFF REPORTS MIA AT USDA: It has been four years since the USDA published legally required annual financial reports on a $400 million dairy research and promotional fund — one of the largest pots of cash among federal checkoff programs, Pro Agriculture’s Catherine Boudreau reports. The missing reports add to the controversy surrounding federal checkoffs, fueling renewed arguments from farmers and advocacy groups who have long demanded greater transparency in the checkoff universe. Just a little bit longer: The reports on the dairy checkoff, which is funded by taxes on producers of milk products, should be posted within the month, a USDA spokeswoman told POLITICO. She said they are in the final clearance stage, and the 2016 installment is still in the works. She declined to explain the reason for the years-long delay. Prior to 2012, the dairy checkoff was one of the most transparent, regularly filing annual financial reports that often topped 100 pages. The reports were then sent to Capitol Hill. Only the dairy checkoff’s evaluations must be sent to Congress, because of the way its authorizing statute was written. Catherine explores the background and the back-and-forth over what may have caused the change. Pros, full story here.