Thursday, December 15, 2016

Federal judge says sending checkoff funds to state beef group was unconstitutional

"A U.S. magistrate judge sided with R-CALF USA in a First Amendment dispute over the use of beef checkoff funds," reports Agri-Pulse. "The case was filed after the Montana Beef Council used checkoff funds to support advertisements for North American beef, a move that riled up the membership of country-of-origin-labeling stalwart R-CALF," an acronym that stands for Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America.

"The findings of the magistrate back R-CALF’s claim that checkoff funds being sent to a private entity—the Montana Beef Council, in this case—is an unconstitutional violation of their members’ rights," reports Agri-Pulse. "In an alert to its membership, R-CALF called this a win 'an important first victory in our case'." However, there is still expected to be further review in the court system. 

"R-CALF also notes that if the U.S. District Court adopts the magistrate’s findings and recommendations and orders a preliminary injunction, 'the government must stop allowing the Montana Beef Council to collect and spend producer checkoff dollars unless the council first obtains permission from each cattle producer to keep and use their checkoff dollars.' The government now has 14 days to object to or appeal the magistrate judge’s findings or recommendations," Agri-Pulse reports. Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but can be viewed by clicking here.

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