WASHINGTON — Even as the Grain Foods Foundation is marshalling support for a new iteration of the breadbasket checkoff program, a vocal group of bakers remains vigorously opposed to a program, said Nicholas A. Pyle, president of the Independent Bakers Association.
In a recent letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the IBA said it “requests that the Biden administration discontinue any further efforts to proceed with the breadbasket checkoff program.”
In the letter, Mr. Pyle said IBA’s support for terminating efforts to establish a checkoff was reinforced by a survey of more than 70 US baking companies, a large majority of whom said they do not support a checkoff program.
He said the 70 companies were selected based on membership lists from the IBA, the American Bakers Association and the Sosland Publishing Co. Redbook.
Most of the companies surveyed would not be subject to assessments under a checkoff program, but all or nearly all would need to file annually with the US Department of Agriculture to seek an exemption, based on their volume or their product mix, Mr. Pyle said.
“They would have to keep paperwork and file annually,” he said. “They all have skin in the game.
Christine Cochran, executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation, said the paperwork burden on bakers seeking an exemption will be minimal.
Asked whether the majority of baking companies likely covered by a checkoff assessment as currently proposed oppose such a program, Mr. Pyle said he was unsure.
“We don’t know exactly who is covered,” he said. “We don’t know the mix at baking companies between retail and foodservice.”
Mr. Pyle said a checkoff would be less effective for an industry like baking, whose products mostly are branded, than is the case for beef or eggs, sectors with far less or almost no branding.
“We’re trying end the bread tax on the industry,” he said. “That’s what we’re about.”