A U.S. District Court judge in Montana ruled last week that the Beef Promotion and Research Act is constitutional, defeating an attempt to halt the national checkoff program. The ruling declares the beef checkoff is constitutional and notes that speech compelled by the act “constitutes support for government speech.”

The challenge to the beef checkoff’s constitutionality was raised by Jeanne and Steve Charter of Shepher, Mont. and several individual producers. The case began in 1998 as a noncompliance suit against the Charters.

The constitutionality of the beef checkoff was upheld in two previous challenges and leaders in the beef industry say they will continue the defense to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“Obviously, we are thrilled with the decision,” says Cattlemen’s Beef Board Chairman Dee Lacey. “It reaffirms what other cases have concluded repeatedly through the years- that the beef checkoff is constitutional.”

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Cebull issued the ruling in favor of the defendants based on his review of the record in the case, as well as the transcripts in the Livestock Marketing Association’s lawsuit against the checkoff.

The beef checkoff case would seem to set a favorable precedent for the pork checkoff’s current legal challenges.

Cattleman’s Beef Board