The U.S. Supreme Court does not see any reason to review the Beef Check-off.
It’s a victory for USDA and the nation’s largest beef organization.
Since its creation by the 1985 Farm Bill, the Checkoff has assessed A $1 per head fee on selling all live and domestic cattle. The Checkoff assessment became mandatory when it achieved a 79 percent vote of the nation’s cattle producers in a 1988 national referendum vote.
Shortly after its creation, the Beef Checkoff made possible a national advertising campaign of historical significance that promoted beef sales. The Leo Burnett Company produced the “Beef; It’s what’s for Dinner,” featuring actor Robert Mitchum.
Marketing to stimulate beef sales and beef safety research are both Checkoff-funded programs.
All producers selling cattle or calves, for any reason and regardless of age or sex, must pay $1-per-head. The buyer generally is responsible for collecting $1-per-head from the seller, but both are responsible for seeing that the dollar is collected and paid.
The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and USDA oversee the collection and spending of Checkoff funds.
On Monday, the U.S.Supreme Court denied a petition to review the Beef Checkoff that came 37 years after its creation.
R-CALF USA, the Billings, MT-based independent cattlemen’s group, failed to persuade the high court to review its contention that those checkoff dollars funded “private” rather than “government” speech.
R. CALF brought the action in 2018 against the Montana Beef Council and went after 14 other state beef councils two years later.
The pro-Checkoff National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the Supreme Court’s ruling “ends yet another R-CALF attack on the Beef Checkoff and prevents the activist attorneys at Public Justice” from further diverting Checkoff and beef industry resources.
“For too long, we have allowed R-CALF and their attorneys to divide our industry and draw attention away from the important job of beef promotion and research,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “The Supreme Court’s rejection of R-CALF’s petition confirms the Beef Checkoff and its overseers are adhering to the letter and spirit of the laws that protect and guide producer investments in the program.”
The Montana case was dismissed in January 2020 when the U.S. District Court of Montana ruled in favor of USDA and the Montana Beef Council in the matter of R-CALF vs. Sonny Perdue and USDA.
R-CALF appealed the decision with attorneys from “Public Justice,” arguing that the government’s Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the state beef councils did not cure recent constitutional violations in the Beef Checkoff program.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected R-CALF’s arguments setting up the request for Supreme Court review and its most recent rejection.
NCBA, which has long opposed R-CALF on policy matters, intervened in beginning the lawsuit to help defend state beef councils from R-CALF and their “activist attorneys, who falsely attacked state beef councils and the cattlemen.”
NCBA says that during its unsuccessful attacks on the Beef Checkoff, R-CALF was “closely aligned with extremist animal rights groups like PETA and others…”
“It’s time that our industry stands up to R-CALF and insists that they end these attacks on the Beef Checkoff and the volunteer cattle producers who direct it,” Woodall said.
The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) consists of 101 members, including domestic beef, dairy, and veal producers, as well as importers of beef and beef products.
Members are individually nominated by certified nominating organizations and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve a non-paid three-year term. CBB administers a collection of the $1-per-head checkoff on cattle sold in the U.S. and $1-per-head equivalent on imported cattle, beef, and beef products.
The Board is also responsible for approving the annual budget for its national Checkoff-funded programs.
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