Recently, a rural newspaper in
The recent editorial “Checkoff Shouldn’t Fund Air Pollution Studies” missed the mark on several key points.
The biggest was the assumption that air emissions regulation is something that only the biggest farms need be concerned with, and since
In fact, several environmental scientists have estimated that the current federal air emissions laws used to regulate livestock operations could apply to farms with as few cows as 100. In
The editorial also misunderstands the process involved in this agreement between EPA and the dairy industry. Under the consent agreement with EPA, the dairy industry must pay for research that will help demonstrate that dairy farms are, by and large, not major sources of problematic air emissions. The research will be conducted by
Let me make two other points about the role of checkoff money in paying for this research. First, it bears repeating that other livestock groups (eggs and pork) are using their own checkoff dollars. Because of the way their checkoff programs are written, they are allowed to use money for both promotion of their product and pre-harvest issues. The dairy checkoff program is not written the same way, so a one-time act of Congress was needed to obtain permission to use checkoff money for this environmental research project.
The other key point is that the role of checkoff funds in the dairy industry has evolved in the 22 years since the national promotion act was passed. Unlike in the 1980s, few dollars are spent nationally today on advertising, while more is invested in educating consumers about the dairy industry. That’s because consumers are concerned about environmental issues and food production now more than ever before. Farms in
Several years ago,
Likewise, the dairy-funded environmental research we support will show consumers that the dairy industry is being proactive on the crucial environmental questions of the day, instead of turning our backs on the issue. This research is going to show consumers that dairy farmers are good stewards of the land, which I think most producers will agree is a suitable role for the checkoff.