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May 24, 2004   Email to Friend 

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR BEEF CHECKOFF CASE
Checkoff Will Continue Demand-Building Efforts
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
May 24, 2004

DENVER, Colo. -- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it will hear an appeal of an 8th Circuit Appellate Court ruling that found the federal Beef Promotion and Research Act in violation of the First Amendment. The decision to hear the case will allow the beef checkoff program to continue business as usual throughout the proceedings. The checkoff has helped grow consumer demand for beef more than 16 percent since 1998 and has increased the prices that producers receive for their cattle.

"This decision was expected," said Bob Rolston, an Englewood, Colo., cattleman and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils Division of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). "Throughout the lengthy litigation process, we anticipated that the decision would ultimately be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. What's more, we believe in the merits of the beef checkoff and are confident that it eventually will prevail."

The final Supreme Court ruling is expected in the first half of 2005.

The decision essentially means that the Beef Checkoff program will continue through the hearing process and will apply to and let stand the Pork Checkoff program until a decision is reached on the beef case.

"This ruling has no direct impact on the National Pork Producers Council(NPPC), which is voluntarily funded by pork producers nationwide," said NPPC President Keith Berry, a pork producer from Greencastle, Ind. "NPPC will continue to serve as the advocate for pork producers, working to enhance and defend opportunities for pork producers at home and abroad. We are moving forward to the future, fighting for reasonable legislation, regulation and trade policy; developing revenue and market opportunities; and protecting the livelihood of pork producers across the country."

Cattlemen have supported a beef checkoff assessment since 1922. Recent producer market research conducted by an independent firm indicates that nearly 70 percent of beef producers support the current $1-per-head beef checkoff program. National industry organizations, along with intervening groups, are using all legal options to preserve the federal checkoff.

Myron Williams, a Wall, S.D., cattleman and vice chairman of the Federation added, "Thanks to the checkoff's organized and proactive public response, confidence in U.S. beef remains high -- in line with pre-BSE levels -- despite the challenge a single case of BSE presented. Cattlemen recognize the valuable role the beef checkoff plays in defending the industry from food safety and nutrition challenges." Williams continued, "State beef councils and their Federation -- a division of NCBA -- are committed to protecting the brand equity built in the "Beef. It's What's For Dinner.®" campaign. Therefore, we are taking all steps to ensure program continuation." Thirty state attorneys general, along with Puerto Rico, asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and 48 industry organizations signed a brief supporting the Supreme Court's review. "Many groups recognize that checkoff programs enhance local beef industries and economies," said Rolston. "They recognize that the beef checkoff has played a key role in the dramatic increase in beef demand." The legal challenge to the beef checkoff's constitutionality was raised by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) and a few individual producers.


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