FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eric Schippers
June 25, 2002
Checkoff Declared Unconstitutional
Va. -- In a case with broad implications for the nations agricultural
commodity promotion programs, on June 21, 2002, U.S. District Judge
Charles Kornmann in South Dakota struck down the federal Beef Promotion
and Research Act, which is responsible for the beef checkoff and
messages such as: "Beef: Its Whats for Dinner."
statements by the Center for Individual Freedom and attorneys on
the decision in Livestock Marketing Association v. USDA:
Executive Director of the Center, said:
comes as welcome relief to thousands of cattle ranchers, farmers
and dairy producers around the country who are courageously fighting
to preserve their First Amendment rights against mandatory checkoff
the efforts of the LMA and Western Organization of Resource Councils
in bringing this suit. We believe the decision is an encouraging
sign for pending suits against the beef checkoff in U.S. District
Court in Billings, Montana and the dairy checkoff in U.S. District
Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania."
Erik S. Jaffe,
attorney for independent Montana cattle ranchers Steve and Jeanne
Charter in Charter v. USDA, said:
confirms what we have said all along. Namely, that the mushroom
checkoff is materially indistinguishable from the beef checkoff,
and both programs constitute compelled support for speech in violation
of the First Amendment.
looking for a similar outcome in our case against the beef checkoff
in Montana. In fact, we hope for an even more thorough repudiation
of the Beef Act, given the broader range of objections the Charters
have to the Act and the more extensive relief they have sought.
While the South Dakota decision is laudable in its legal analysis,
it still, unfortunately, allows millions of dollars of unconstitutionally
collected money to be spent in violation of the First Amendment."
F. Yale, attorney for dairy farmers Joseph and Brenda Cochran in
Cochran v. Veneman, said:
particularly pleased that Judge Kornmann addressed and directly
refuted the notion that checkoff programs constitute government
speech. That is a novel defense that has never been accepted by
any appellate court. Only now, in response to the United Foods
mushroom decision, does the government raise it as a defense. The
facts are that dairy farmers such as the Cochrans are illegally
compelled to support other dairy farmers speech, and as Judge
Kornmann wisely observed, Congress cannot legislatively extend
the power to
a private group to abridge First Amendment rights."
To read copies
of the legal briefs filed in Charter v. USDA and Cochran
v. Veneman, visit the Centers website at www.cfif.org
1998, the Center for Individual Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit
organization with the mission to protect and defend individual freedoms
and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.