At the request of House Minority Leader and California Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the Government Accountability Office prepared a report regarding the Agricultural Marketing Service and its oversight of national checkoff programs.
The Hagstrom Report says the AMS should increase its oversight of the 22 national checkoff programs that producers pay fees to for industry research and promotion to expand the overall market availability for the commodities within those programs. The GAO made a list of five recommendations, one of which was that the USDA revise its standard operating procedures to include the review of subcontracts. Other recommendations included putting key program documents on checkoff-related websites, as well as developing solid criteria to assess program evaluations.
Also in the report, the GAO notes that the independent economic investigations into the effectiveness of the checkoff programs are required to take place once every five years. The report says those evaluations have generally shown positive financial benefits, but the evaluations varied in methods they used to reach these conclusions and had certain methodological limitations.