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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 28, 2017.
Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act of 2017
This bill establishes restrictions and requirements for checkoff programs, which are programs overseen by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote and provide research and information for a particular agricultural commodity without reference to specific producers or brands.
The bill prohibits boards established to carry out a checkoff program or a USDA order issued under a checkoff program from entering into a contract or agreement to carry out program activities with a party that engages in activities to influence any government policy or action that relates to agriculture.
A board or its employees or agents acting in their official capacity may not engage in any:
act that may involve a conflict of interest; anticompetitive activity; unfair or deceptive act or practice; or act that may be disparaging to, or in any way negatively portray, another agricultural commodity or product. Upon approval of USDA, a board may enter directly into contracts and agreements to carry out generic promotion, research, or other activities authorized by law if the agreement or contract requires records accounting for the funds received to be submitted to the board.
The board must meet specified requirements regarding the publication of budgets and disbursements of funds.
The USDA Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office must conduct specified audits regarding checkoff programs.