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Agricultural News

District Court Affirms State Beef Councils Are a Legal Part of the Beef Checkoff- Dismisses Litigation Brought by R-Calf USA

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 22:43:33 CDT

District Court Affirms State Beef Councils Are a Legal Part of the Beef Checkoff- Dismisses Litigation Brought by R-Calf USA The Beef Checkoff program and fifteen grassroots-led state beef councils won a major court victory on Friday when the United States 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. Brian Morris, Chief District Judge for the US District Court in Great Falls, Montana signed the order declaring final summary judgement for USDA and the Montana Beef Council on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Among the Beef Councils that had been targeted by R-Calf in this litigation was the Kansas and Texas Beef Councils. The Oklahoma Beef Council was not one of the fourteen additional Beef Councils that were added after the initial court ruling had placed Montana's Beef Council in a state of limbo in their operations.

NCBA praised the court’s decision, which ends a legal battle that has spanned more than three years and interrupted beef promotion functions in Montana. The case had threatened local input and promotion efforts at the state level across the country.

“The foundation of the Beef Checkoff has always been state beef councils that collect checkoff funds and determine how those investments are used for research, marketing and promotion efforts in individual states. Those efforts are directed by the same cattlemen and cattlewomen who pay the checkoff, so this victory goes a long way toward ensuring they continue to direct those investments,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall.

Woodall emphasized that NCBA will continue to stand with state beef councils whose work is crucial to maintaining beef demand throughout the nation.
Earlier, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with Woodall after the initial summary judgement ruling- click here to jump back to that story and listen to Hays and Colin Woodall discuss that ruling in favor or USDA and against R-Calf.

The turning point for the State Beef Councils and USDA was the adoption of MOUs- Memorandums of Understanding that established that the State Beef Councils agreed to allow USDA to review all advertising and marketing programs before they were implemented. The Oklahoma Beef Council was an early adopter of the MOU- and later other Beef Councils signed similar agreements- and that seemed to persuade the District Judge to grant summary judgement to USDA and the Montana Beef Council- and end the litigation.

According to the Ruling- "the Government has entered into MOUs with QSBCs(Qualified State Beef Councils) uninvolved in this litigation. The involvement of QSBCs not involved in this litigation indicates that the Government has enacted a broader policy change, not a change with the sole aim of ending this litigation. Further, the Government may only revoke the MOUs with the consent of the QSBCs. (See, e.g., Doc. 133-1 at 3.) Given this Court’s initial order and the Ninth Circuit’s affirmance, the QSBCs face the choice of operating under the MOU or consenting to withdrawal of the MOU and losing their checkoff funding. These considerations prove sufficient to show that the MOUs stand “entrenched” in the way that USDA and QSBCs make use of checkoff funds."

The complete court ruling can be accessed by clicking here.



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