The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled a lawsuit brought by independent ranchers who say the Beef Checkoff Program threatens their livelihood can go forward. The court’s opinion denied a motion to dismiss by the USDA, writing that the ranchers have successfully alleged they have “associational standing” to challenge USDA’s practices. The case will proceed through discovery. R-CALF USA filed this legal challenge over amendments the USDA made to the operation of the federal Beef Checkoff program in September 2020.
Tri-State Livestock News says the new lawsuit builds on R-CALF USA’s Montana litigation, which challenged the constitutionality of the use of Checkoff funds by private state beef councils to fund speech that harms independent producers. R-CALF’s lawsuit asserts that the government unlawfully amended the legal and regulatory framework within which the state beef councils operate without first undergoing a public rulemaking process that gives the public notice of its proposed amendments and provides the public with an opportunity to comment before the changes get implemented. R-CALF says its members, and ranchers everywhere were denied their right to weigh in on a federal program they’re forced to fund.
The National Association of Farm Broadcasting and the American Farm Bureau Federation contributed to this report.