It's farmers helping farmers. It started when Maryland farmers recognized the need for local promotion, research, and market development of their products to promote greater utilization of grain. As this is difficult on an individual basis, farmers came together to create a checkoff program for corn, wheat and other small grains. With a small contribution collected from each farmer, pooled together the funds make it possible to conduct projects beneficial to all the grain farmers in the state. The checkoff program began in 1991 and has passed with nearly 100% approval in each of the five-year referendums conducted since its inception.
When the farmer sells his/her crop, the buyer collects a half a percent of the net value of grain sold. These funds are sent to the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board. The funds are administered by a board consisting of regional farmer representatives and advisory members representing the University of Maryland, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and agri-businesses in the state. Funds are spent in the same proportion on each crop as they are received, and are specific to the needs of Maryland's grain farmers. While it is mandatory that the funds be collected, farmers are able to request a refund of the checkoff funds.