The Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to withdraw the Wheat Flour Foods Promotion, Research, and Information Order (the “Order”) from further consideration. If approved by USDA, the withdrawal would cancel the pending publication of the Order in The Federal Register, a subsequent public comment period, and following that, an industry referendum. The Order, which came out of an industry checkoff feasibility study initiated in 2016, would have established a mandatory funding mechanism for promoting the wheat-based grain foods category.   

The petition to the USDA followed a May 10 vote by the GFF Board of Trustees, expressing strong support for the withdrawal of the Order from USDA consideration.

“The challenges facing our industry today are perhaps even more intense than those faced in 2004, when GFF was formed,” said Debo Mukherjee, GFF co-chair and chief marketing officer, Flowers Foods. “Our Board is committed to continuing to push against anti-carb and anti-grain messages through the strong work of GFF in research and science-based messaging initiatives.”  

Kirk Stehr, GFF co-chair and senior vice president of Grain Craft, said industry disagreement over the checkoff program was undermining the promotion of grain-based foods.

“As vested stakeholders in this industry GFF supports, the Board agreed that the checkoff conversation has become a distraction to the work GFF needs to do on behalf of the whole industry,” he said. “GFF has enjoyed unprecedented success year after year, even during the COVID pandemic, and the GFF board wants to do everything in our power to share this success with our industry and to make sure resources are available to continue to grow this work.”  

The 2016 checkoff feasibility study, undertaken by GFF at the request of members common to both the American Bakers Association and GFF, kicked-off with stakeholder assessments executed the following year. The work included a review of potential creative assets to be utilized in a consumer campaign promoting wheat-based foods. Additionally, the feasibility study proposed a framework for efforts such as scientific research, undertaken to protect the market for the industry’s products.   

“No one in our industry has been untouched by the realities of the COVID pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and commodity market volatility,” stated Vince Melchiorre, GFF Board member and senior vice president and general manager, Bimbo Bakeries USA. “The baking and milling industries are known for being a family of great companies. The way forward for our industry is to understand that the checkoff opportunity is not a fit for us and to move forward with strength, belief in the incredible story around the products we make, and a vision for GFF that delivers research leadership and thought advocacy.” GFF anticipates USDA will confirm the withdrawal of the Order in the coming days.   

For more information about the Foundation, research findings, and the grain foods’ role in a healthful diet, visit