A magistrate judge in Montana has ruled in favor of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) in their suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the use of beef checkoff funds in Montana.

On December 12, U.S. Magistrate John Johnston recommended U.S. District Judge Brian Morris grant a preliminary injunction. The injunction would halt the Montana Beef Council from using beef checkoff funding without prior consent from individual producers.

R-CALF USA filed a lawsuit on May 2 against the USDA and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack alleging the use of government mandated beef checkoff money by private beef councils fund private speech some producers oppose.

“The private speech our members disagree with is the beef council’s message that foreign beef is the same as, and is just as good as, beef produced exclusively from cattle born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States of America,” wrote Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, in a letter to members.

A hearing was held on October 25 for the U.S. Magistrate Judge to review the allegations and then make recommendations to the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.

The USDA has until December 26 to file an objection against the recommendations.