To increase demand and expand their markets, producers of a dozen commodities besides pork pay assessments to fund promotion programs, commonly referred to as checkoff programs. These include producers of beef, dairy, fluid milk, eggs, honey, peanuts, popcorn, soybeans and watermelon.

Beef The Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, passed as part of the 1985 Farm Bill, established the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB). It has 110 members representing 37 states and four geographical units, with one additional unit representing importers. The current assessment rate is $1/head of cattle each time cattle are sold. The assessment applies to all producers owning and marketing cattle and all imported cattle, beef and beef products. Altogether, the assessments total approximately $80 million/year. Producers in the state control half of the money, which is collected by qualified state beef councils. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association contracts with the CBB.

Dairy Products The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 established National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, which consists of 36 producers. With the help of contractor Dairy Management Inc., the board collects an assessment of 15 cents/cwt. for all milk produced in the U.S. and marketed commercially by dairy farmers. For contributions to qualified regional, state or local dairy product promotion, research or nutrition education programs, dairy farmers can direct up to 10 cents/cwt. of the assessment. Annually assessments amount to approximately $76.5 million.

Comprised of 20 members, the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, with help from the Milk Industry Foundation and Dairy Management Inc., administers the National Fluid Milk Processor Act of 1990. The board collects 20 cents/cwt. from processors who monthly market more than 500,000 lb. of fluid milk products in consumer-type packages in the U.S. The board's annual revenue is about $110 million.

Eggs With 18 to 20 producer members and alternates, the American Egg Board carries out the Egg Research and Consumer Information Act of 1974. The board collects an assessment of 10 cents/30-dozen case of eggs sold from producers owning more than 75,000 laying hens. The assessments total approximately $14 million annually.

Honey The Honey Research, Promotion and Consumer Information Act of 1984 created the Honey Board, which consists of seven producers, two handlers, two importers, one officer of a marketing cooperative, a public member and their alternates. The board collects 0.75 cents/lb. from producers and handlers marketing more than 6,000 lb. of honey/year through local retail outlets and 1.5 cents/lb. from importers marketing that same volume. The program's assessment income is close to $3.34 million a year.

Peanuts and Popcorn The 10-member National Peanut Board administers the first program to be authorized by the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. It allows industries to establish a program through rulemaking and referendum without the need for stand-alone legislation by Congress. An assessment of 1% of the price paid for all farmers' stock peanuts sold funds the Peanut Promotion, Research and Information Order approved in 1999.

With the help of a Chicago management firm, the four- to nine-member Popcorn Board carries out the Popcorn Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1996. Processors and importers of more than 4 million lb. of popcorn/year pay 5 cents/ cwt. The act requires the American Marketing Service (AMS) to notify congressional agriculture committees when the user fee reaches 10% of annual projected revenues.

Soybeans Part of the 1990 Farm Bill, the Soybean Promotion and Research Act became effective in September 1991. The 62-member United Soybean Board, based in Chesterfield, MO, collects 0.5 of 1% of the net market price from all producers who market soybeans. The national and state levels split investment of the funds in half. Every five years producers have the opportunity to request a referendum of program continuance. Annual assessments equal approximately $80 million. Since the checkoff began in 1991, annual soybean consumption increased from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion bushels.

Watermelon The Watermelon Research and Promotion Act of 1985 established the 33-member National Watermelon Promotion Board in Orlando, FL. Producers with more than 10 acres in watermelon production pay 2 cents/cwt., and importers with more than 150,000 lb. of watermelons pay 4 cents/cwt. Income from assessments totals approximately $1.7 million each year.

In addition to the programs listed above, producers and importers of cotton and mushrooms also pay assessments for promotion programs.

Apples, avocados, blueberries, fish, forestry products, fresh asparagus, kiwi fruit, macadamia nuts, olive oil and sweet corn are among the commodities for which new programs are in the formation process.

For more information on commodity checkoff programs, visit the AMS's Web site at www.ams.usda.gov.