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Judge Considering Merits of Beef Checkoff Lawsuit

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A decision on whether or not a lawsuit against the Beef Checkoff can continue will be issued at an “unannounced future date.” A federal judge heard arguments for 55 minutes this week from attorneys representing R-CALF and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the Beef Checkoff program. R-CALF alleges the Beef Checkoff is allowing the Montana Beef Council to use checkoff funds without oversight. Specifically, R-CALF says the state council is using checkoff dollars to promote international beef, and Montana producers cannot opt-out of the program. Justice Department attorneys, representing the Department of Agriculture, say beef producers may request that all their check-off dollars be redirected directly to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, but there is little record of any Montana producers filing a request. Currently, half of the $1-per-head assessment goes to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and, for Montana, the other half goes to the Montana Beef Council.

Secretary Vilsack believes the challenge should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim by R-CALF.

Source: NAFB News Service