May 25, 2005
Supreme Court Rules Beef Checkoff Constitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court voted May 23 to uphold the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, overturning lower court decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and the U.S. District Court for South Dakota, which ruled the measure unconstitutional. The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of the beef checkoff program.

The program will continue without interruption. USDA is reviewing this decision to determine its implications for first amendment challenges to other checkoff programs.

Under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board develops budgets and awards contracts to carry out a coordinated program designed to strengthen the position of beef in the marketplace. One such contract resulted in the highly recognizable “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign.

The mandatory program is funded by an assessment of $1 per head collected each time cattle are sold. All producers owning and marketing cattle, regardless of the size of their operation or the value of their cattle, must pay the assessment. A comparable assessment is collected on all imported cattle, beef and beef products.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service monitors operation of the board.

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