SUPREME COURT VOTES TO ALLOW BEEF CHECKOFF TO CONTINUE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A Supreme Court ruling Monday that allows the beef checkoff program to continue will benefit both producers and consumers, according to Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Director Perry Mobley.
"There is no doubt that the beef checkoff has been responsible for funding most of the research and development projects that have yielded the new easy-to-cook beef products that we enjoy in today's fast-paced world," Mobley said. "Having these types of products available for today's contemporary consumer is paramount to maintaining a strong demand for delicious American beef."
Not only has the checkoff funded research and development, it also has consistently been used to promote the health and wholesomeness of beef in the American diet. The familiar ad campaign "Beef--It's What's for Dinner" is funded by the checkoff.
The high court's decision overturns a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that found the federal Beef Promotion and Research Act in violation of the First Amendment. The checkoff has helped grow consumer demand for beef more than 25 percent since 1998 and has increased the prices that producers receive for their cattle.
"I am extremely pleased the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the constitutionality of the $1 per head beef checkoff," Mobley said. "The National Beef Checkoff is extremely important to the beef industry. It is the most inexpensive and effective way that beef producers have to promote their product. Had the constitutionality of the checkoff been overturned, the beef industry may have been at a disadvantage in product promotion, research and development to other food products."
A lawsuit challenged a 1985 law requiring producers to pay a $1-per-head fee on cattle sold in the United States. That fee, which generates more than $80 million per year, goes to an industry group appointed by the Agriculture Department to support advertising and research programs. In Alabama, the Alabama Cattlemen's Association administers the funds.
The 6-3 decision is being closely watched by other agricultural sectors, including the dairy and pork industries that use similar checkoff programs to fund education, promotion and research of their products. Their slogans include "Pork, the Other White Meat" and "Got Milk?"
Beef is big business in Alabama. Cash receipts for beef cattle production in the state rank second only to broilers. Cattle are produced in all 67 counties, and beef cattle represent a $1 billion industry to Alabama. The state ranks 8th in the nation among all states in the number of farms with beef cattle.