Federal program helps fund education, promotion and research projects for farmers

ELKMONT, Ala. - Jessie Hobbs III is the fifth generation of his family to farm in Elkmont, and being a family farmer means a lot to him.

"I'm proud to say I'm an American Farmer," he proclaimed.

His job is not going away any time soon, and the demand for farmers is actually expected to increase. The America Farm Bureau Federation says the average American farmer feeds 165 people annually. The global population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, so that means the world’s farmers are going to need to grow about 70 percent more food than what is now produced.

The Commodity Checkoff program is a federal program, and its purpose is to promote commodities produced by the U.S. agricultural industry. These government-sponsored programs implement mandatory assessments on commodity producers and processors, which are then used to fund programs that are meant to increase demand for and sales of the covered commodity.

A notable example of a program funded by the Commodity Checkoff program is the "Got Milk?" advertisements.

Hobbs said the funds are automatically deducted, but farmers can petition to have the funds not to be deducted.

However, Hobbs said most farmers are willing to have the automatic deduction.

"But most farmers are still willing to let that deduction come out because it helps them promote their own product," he explained.

Another portion of those funds goes towards innovations.  Hobbs said soy is used in a number of different products that are not edible, for example, such as cushions for car seats and other construction products.

"You've heard the plywood and the particle board. Well, every time those products get wet in the past, they just deteriorate to pieces. Well now, soy has come to the table with a product that's water resistant," Hobbs continued.

With the future unsure for many farmers, Hobbs said Commodity Checkoff funds help him feel prepared for the future.

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