What is a Checkoff Program?

In the United States, a checkoff organization collects funds, sometimes called checkoff dollars, from producers of a particular agricultural commodity and uses these funds to promote and do research pertaining to the commodity. Checkoff programs attempt to improve the market position of the covered commodity by expanding market opportunities, increasing demand and developing new uses.

The United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for overseeing the formation of checkoff organizations under the authority of the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996.

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program

The United Sorghum Checkoff Program has been working with checkoff dollars to help improve profitability for sorghum producers nationwide. Since 2008, the Sorghum Checkoff has enhanced its efforts in the areas of research, promotion and information to help sorghum producers yield greater financial return. Today, the economic picture for sorghum is bright with greater acreage being devoted to sorghum and increased demand coming from foreign markets and right here in the U.S.


The Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 allows an organization to collect assessments on the production of a commodity.

The money collected by a checkoff must be used to enhance the industry through research, information and promotion. The money may not be used for lobbying efforts.

The approval process for the Sorghum Checkoff began in February 2006. The proposed order was published in the Federal Register for public comment on November 23, 2007. The final order was published on May 6, 2008.

Sorghum Checkoff collections began July 1, 2008, and the board of director’s first meeting was held in November 2008. The Sorghum Checkoff programs officially began March 2009.

A referendum was held in February 2011 and 2015, both of which passed allowing the continuation of the program. Future referendums can occur only by order of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture or by a 10 percent producer petition.

The Sorghum Checkoff is currently managed by the National Sorghum Producers.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.