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Agrimarketing : October 2012
102 Agri Marketing October 2012 community relations campaigns by the League of American Communications Professionals. Through the use of checkoff funds and trade associations, agricultural producers and their suppliers have set the bar high for consumer marketing campaigns. Before any of the campaigns, however, there were individual farmers producing commodities for consumption. Consumers have a reasonable amount of information about most foods, fibers, and other goods they buy. Even without any advertising, most commodities would still be consumed at some level, but when sales and demand started dropping off, industry leaders recognized the need for checkoff programs that would keep increasing demand. With oversight provided by USDA, producers have taken it upon themselves through these checkoffs to fund over $905 million of research, promotion and consumer education programs annually at no cost to the taxpayer. "Research, promotion and discovering more uses for soybeans has helped increase demand, yields and profitability," explains Jim Call, a Madison, MN, farmer and member of the United Soybean Board. He also participates in The Responsible Ethical Agriculture for Life (R.E.A.L.) Story, a soybean checkoff-funded campaign that educates non-farmers about how Minnesota soybean farmers care for the land, the water, their animals and their communities. This platform is helping Minnesota soybean farmers build a connection with non-farmers and is working to make the soybean farmer a trusted source of information about farming today. CHECKOFFS NOW MANADATORY As the various industries saw a need for organization and coordination among producers of the same commodity, checkoff programs provided a great solution. Legislation that supported a program for developing, financing and carrying out an effective, continuous and coordinated national program of generic promotion, research and information regarding agricultural commodities came in to place with the Commodity Promotion Research and Implementation Act of 1996. It was designed to strengthen the market position of agricultural commodities, maintain and expand existing domestic and foreign markets and uses for agricultural commodities and assist producers in meeting their conservation objectives. The funding for federal commodity checkoff programs comes mainly from mandatory contributions collected from commodity suppliers. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has oversight on checkoff programs and may inspect and audit the books (more on page 104) Trade Assns And Checkoffs | continued from page 101
November December 2012