Agriculture checkoff programs collect money from farmers and ranchers to promote their products in general: they use ads and recipes to encourage members of the public to eat more of a given product: notable programs exist for milk, eggs, avocados, pork, and beef. What they are not supposed to do is secretly plot against competing products with other ingredients.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation found that the Egg Board improperly plotted against eggless Just Mayo. While the company was fighting competing mayo manufacturers and even the Food and Drug Administration over the word “mayo” in its name, the head of the Egg Board was joking about having Hampton Creek’s founder killed, and asked a consultant to see about having the product removed from Whole Foods.
Another activity deemed “improper” for a checkoff program was buying Google ads with pro-egg information intended for people searching for Hampton Creek’s products.
However, the agency concluded, while the checkoff program was acting against its own guidelines, it wasn’t doing anything illegal. The executive behind the shenanigans already took early retirement after the crusade became public, but the scandal revealed that the USDA doesn’t have a lot of power over checkoff program staff. It can’t force them to quit, for example: the egg board director retired voluntarily.
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist