PIERRE, S.D. - Livestock Marketing Association filed suit Dec. 29 on
behalf of America's cattle producers, asking the federal district court to order U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to "immediately conduct" a referendum on the beef checkoff.

"This suit is a last resort for LMA, because we saw no other way to get producers the vote they deserve," said LMA President John Willis.

Joining LMA as plaintiffs in the suit were the Western Organization of Resource Councils and individual South Dakota producers. Support for the checkoff referendum was particularly strong in South Dakota: of the 18,700 beef or dairy producers in the state, 8,545, or more than 45 percent, signed a referendum petition.

In November 1999, LMA climaxed a national petition drive by delivering to USDA nearly 146,000 signatures of producers who want a vote on the checkoff's future. Secretary Glickman delayed for more than a year in
starting the verification of the petitions and is now using a signature
validation process virtually identical to the one used in the failed
validation of the pork checkoff referendum petitions last year.
This unconscionable delay violates both the Constitution and the federal Administrative Procedure Act, Willis said.