FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Schippers
and Center for Individual Freedom Mount Legal Challenge to Dairy
Pa. A family of dairy farmers, working in conjunction
with the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF), today announced that
it has engaged a prominent agricultural attorney to file a lawsuit
challenging the constitutionality of the USDAs mandatory dairy
Joe and Brenda
Cochran, along with their eldest son Cyrus and most of their other
13 children, produce nearly 7,000 pounds of milk each day on their
213-acre farm in north-central Pennsylvania. The Cochrans are "independent"
dairy farmers who do not belong to a cooperative marketing group.
long felt the mandatory advertising tax on our milk is unconstitutional,"
said Brenda Cochran. "As small, independent dairy farmers,
were strongly against having to pay for someone elses
messages. Wed rather speak for ourselves."
The dairy checkoff,
which last year collected over $250 million, is funded by dairy
producers through a mandatory 15-cent per hundredweight (roughly
2-cents per gallon) assessment on all milk domestically produced
and marketed commercially. Enacted by Congress in 1983, the dairy
checkoff is the latest in a growing list of challenges to commodity
promotion programs in the wake of the June 25, 2001, ruling by the
U.S. Supreme Court that it violates the First Amendment for the
government to compel mushroom producers to pay for industry advertising
(United States v. United Foods).
is simple," said Benjamin F. Yale, attorney for the Cochrans.
"The First Amendment gives the Cochrans the right to speak
or to remain silent. This is a choice enjoyed by virtually every
other vocation in the country. The Supreme Court has held that mushroom
growers have that choice, and were going to ask that dairy
producers be given the choice as well." Mr. Yale has over twenty
five years experience in the dairy industry, representing dairy
interests in state and federal rule making, agency hearings, and
Executive Director of CIF said, "We see this latest legal challenge
as a further circling of the wagons against unconstitutional commodity
promotion programs. For the Center for Individual Freedom, its
a matter of principle; we will continue to fight to protect the
constitutional rights of our nations independent ranchers,
farmers and dairy producers."
CIF filed an
amicus (friend of the court) brief in the United Foods mushroom
case, as well as in a case in the California Supreme Court involving
mandatory advertising for plum growers (Gerawan Farming, Inc.
v. Veneman). Currently, CIF is assisting in lawsuits filed by
independent beef ranchers against the beef checkoff, and its general
counsel, Renee L. Giachino, will be assisting in the Cochrans
dairy case. Copies of the legal briefs may be read online at www.cfif.org.
CIF has established
a national checkoff legal fund to support legal and communications
efforts to overturn checkoff programs. Those wishing to contribute
to the fund may call Eric Schippers at 703-535-5836.
1998, the Center for Individual Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit
organization with the mission to protect and defend individual freedoms
and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.