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Russell Nemetz Beef Checkoff Battle Heats Up
by Russell Nemetz, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: August 14, 2018

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National independent rancher group Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) today moved to expand their legal campaign to end the unconstitutional administration of the Beef Checkoff program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The current injunction against collection of checkoff funds, upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April, only applies to collection of checkoff funds in Montana. R-CALF USA is now asking for a halt to checkoff funds in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin as well.

"The checkoff program has weakened the U.S. cattle industry by helping importers capture a greater share of our domestic market, and now the courts have found that USDA facilitated this by violating the constitutional rights of cattle producers. It is imperative that we proceed to protect the constitutional rights of cattle producers in these other states by stopping USDA from forcing them to fund private speech that undermines their financial and economic interests," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

"Our side in this fight has the momentum, and we are using it to help bring relief to ranchers in these thirteen states who are currently being compelled to subsidize the speech of multinational corporations regardless of their wishes. Today's supplemental pleading is the next step towards reform of the nation's entire Beef Checkoff system that has become a tool for corporate consolidation and control, harming independent farmers," said Food Project Attorney David Muraskin, lead attorney in the case.

Meanwhile, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is fully committed to the Beef Checkoff Program and the state beef councils who carry out necessary demand-building programs on behalf of the industry. For more than 50 years, state beef councils have been the cornerstone of beef promotion, enjoying widespread support from the vast majority of the beef producers who invest in the Beef Checkoff.

NCBA says the attack by R-CALF and its activist partners on 13 additional state beef councils is nothing more than an attempt to broaden the damage they have caused in Montana. There they have already weakened the producer-directed programs that support beef demand and divided neighbors in a manner that undermines the best interests of the entire beef community.

Although NCBA is not a party to the litigation, the association’s support for the Beef Checkoff is unwavering. We will stand with the state beef councils and help defend them against the attacks being orchestrated by R-CALF and its activist allies, who are aligned with the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-agriculture organizations.

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