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Audit: Farm commodity councils need more oversight

Audit: Farm commodity councils need more oversight Click to Enlarge Photo: Brad Veenstra, KNSI

Mar 21, 2014 at 12:32 pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's legislative auditor is calling for greater oversight over the state's 13 agricultural research and promotional councils, which are funded by millions of dollars in check-off fees that producers pay.

In a report Friday, the auditor says the councils currently get minimal oversight from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. It says information about several councils' operations and finances is not readily available. It says their effectiveness is often not measurable. And it says some councils have potential conflicts of interest.

The report calls for closer oversight by the agriculture department and lawmakers, and legislation to mandate more transparency and address conflict of interest concerns.

Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says his department has already begun implementing the recommendations and anticipates improvements will result from the evaluation and the subsequent policy discussions.

JW Cox

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