“We are elated,” said Jim McAdams, an Adkins,
Cattlemen have supported a checkoff assessment since 1922. January 2005 independent research indicates that a significant 73 percent of beef producers support the current $1-per-head beef checkoff program. Upon the Supreme Court’s acceptance of the beef checkoff case in May 2004, an overwhelming 113 state and national beef industry and general agriculture organizations signed a friend-of-the-court amicus brief in support of the beef checkoff. The brief was also signed by attorneys general from 35 states and
Myron Williams, a Wall, S.D., cattleman and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils Division of NCBA said, “It’s clear that a majority of cattlemen and agricultural groups recognize that checkoff programs are good for local beef industries and economies.” He said, “Cattle-Fax estimates that the beef demand gain in just the past seven years has added about $250 per head to the value of fed cattle and $200 per head to the value of calves. Consumers are willing to pay more for the high-quality beef we are producing.”
The beef checkoff has stimulated the development of more than 2,100 new beef products since 1998. Advertising tracking research indicates that the checkoff is improving consumer attitudes about beef’s nutritional value. And, the checkoff’s organized and proactive public response to a single case of BSE diagnosed in the
Williams continued, “State beef councils and their Federation – a division of NCBA – arecommitted to protecting the brand equity built in the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.®” campaign.”
“It is time now for industry groups to put aside their differences and move forward together,” concluded McAdams.
National Farmers Union
"Monday's U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling by a 6 to 3 vote to uphold the beef checkoff program is both surprising and disappointing.
The ruling is surprising because the Court ruled the mandatory beef checkoff program is a
The disappointing aspect of the Supreme Court ruling is it does nothing to address the problems or controversies surrounding mandatory producer funded checkoff programs. Issues such as accountability to producers who fund the programs, and access to open and fair referendums remain unresolved.
Overall, the court’s ruling will only add to the continued controversies surrounding mandatory promotion programs."
Iowa Cattlemen's Association
Ames, Iowa – The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, upheld the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. The Supreme Court overturned lower court decisions by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for South Dakota, which ruled the measure unconstitutional.
“This decision gives beef producers the opportunity to continue promoting beef through the checkoff program. It also allows continuation of the advertising campaign ‘Beef, It's What's for Dinner’ that is recognized by nearly nine out of ten consumers,” said Bill Scheitler, a beef producer from LeMars, Iowa, and president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.
As a result of this decision, the Beef Checkoff Program will continue without interruption. USDA is reviewing this decision to determine its implications for other First Amendment challenges to checkoff programs.
Cattle producers have supported a checkoff assessment since 1922. Independent research in January 2005 indicated that 73 percent of beef producers support the current $1-per-head beef checkoff program.
In May 2004 when the Supreme Court accepted the beef checkoff case, an overwhelming 113 state and national beef industry and general agriculture organizations signed a friend-of-the-court amicus brief in support of the beef checkoff. Attorneys general from 35 states and Puerto Rico and the chairmen of both the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees also signed the brief.
The mandatory program is funded by an assessment of $1 per head collected each time cattle are sold. All producers owning and marketing cattle, regardless of the size of their operation or the value of their cattle, must pay the assessment. A comparable assessment is collected on all imported cattle, beef and beef products.
Western Organization of Resource Councils
The Court ruled against WORC and the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) in today’s 6-3 decision, saying the mandatory beef checkoff is government speech and therefore does not violate the constitutional right to free speech.
“We challenged the beef checkoff because it forces ranchers like me to pay for speech with which we disagree and to associate with organizations that oppose our best interests as independent cattle producers,” said Mabel Dobbs, a rancher from Weiser,
“The Court has apparently ruled that the beef checkoff does not violate my free speech rights because it is a government program,” Dobbs said. “That’s news to me and most ranchers. We’ve long been told the beef checkoff is producer run, producer driven, and producer funded.”
In his dissenting opinion, Justice David Souter quoted Thomas Jefferson, who said in 1779, “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”
“We agree with Justice Souter, and with Thomas Jefferson,” said Dobbs. “We object to supporting the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which takes our money and promotes policies harmful to independent cattle producers.”
NCBA has received 87 percent of its revenue in recent years from the checkoff. NCBA shares a building, staff, and a Web site with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the organization charged with administering the checkoff. NCBA is the primary recipient of checkoff-funded contracts from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.
Created by Congress, the beef checkoff became mandatory in 1988. Since then, ranchers have paid one dollar on the sale of every head of cattle. Checkoff assessment revenue totals over $80 million annually from
WORC and LMA sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December 2000 after USDA rejected petitions signed by 140,000 cattle producers requesting a vote on the checkoff. The case was amended in August 2001 after the Supreme Court ended the mushroom checkoff. In June 2002, U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann ruled the beef checkoff violated cattle producers’ First Amendment rights by compelling them to pay for speech with which they disagreed.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed
“We thank the Livestock Marketing Association and Professor Laurence Tribe, Phillip Olsson, Ronald Parsons, and all the attorneys who worked so hard on this case,” Dobbs said.
A chronology of the case and links to court filings and rulings are available at www.worc.org.
WORC is a network of grassroots organizations from seven states that includes 9,500 members and 45 local community groups. Based in
Cattlemen's Beef Board
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (May 23, 2005) – The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the Beef Promotion and Research Act by a 6-3 vote today, ruling against the legal challenge brought by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), and three individuals.
Defendants in the case included USDA, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and Nebraska Cattlemen, leading a group of producers as interveners in the case.
“Obviously, we are thrilled with the High Court’s decision,” said Cattlemen’s Beef Board Chairman Al Svajgr. “The Beef Checkoff Program is constitutional.”
Congress and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture set out the overarching message for the Beef Checkoff Program when it created the Beef Promotion and Research Act, the opinion notes in reviewing the “government speech” defense presented by the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the Secretary appoints half of the members of the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee, and all 20 members of that committee – which approves specific checkoff programs – are subject to removal by the Secretary. In short, it notes: “The message of the promotional campaigns is effectively controlled by the Federal Government itself.”
With that in mind, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in delivering the opinion, the messages of the checkoff do constitute government speech and thus are not subject to the First Amendment challenges brought by the plaintiffs.
Svajgr, a producer from
“We believe this is a victory for all cattlemen in the
The Supreme Court Justices on a 6-3 vote reversed an earlier ruling by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
During the years that beef producers have invested $1 per head in the checkoff, beef demand has turned the corner.
Dierschke said TBC’s board of directors, made entirely of
“This ruling affirms that the checkoff program will continue to work for
TBC is one of 46 state beef councils charged with collecting and administering the $1 per head checkoff each time cattle are sold. TBC annually collects an average of $12 million from
Nebraska Cattlemen, leading a group of supportive producers intervening on behalf of the checkoff, was a defendant in the case along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.
J.D. Alexander of Pilger and George Cooksley of Anselmo, both past Nebraska Cattlemen presidents, observed the Supreme Court’s hearing of the case on Dec. 8, 2004, representing producers throughout Nebraska and across the country.
“It was an honor to be there to represent the strong majority of cattle producers who support the checkoff and wanted it to continue,” Alexander said. “We’re extremely pleased that the Court agreed with our view.”
Cooksley added, “Beef demand has increased 25 percent since 1998 and the checkoff funded efforts have been an important part of that growth.”
Although NC, a membership dues-funded association, doesn’t have a financial stake in the checkoff’s future, it sees value in the beef industry’s promotion, education and research program. According to its member-established policy, the association’s position is to defend the checkoff aggressively with help from USDA, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, other state associations and individual producers.
Today’s decision overturns a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that found the federal Beef Promotion and Research Act in violation of the First Amendment. The checkoff has helped grow consumer demand for beef more than 25 percent since 1998 and has increased the prices that producers receive for their cattle.
The Nebraska Cattlemen association serves as the spokesman for the state’s beef cattle industry and represents professional cattle breeders, ranchers and feeders, as well as 48 county and local cattlemen’s associations. Its headquarters are in
This and other Nebraska Cattlemen information is available at www.nebraskacattlemen.org