Checkoff opponents are planning to sue USDA following a settlement agreement continuing the mandatory national checkoff. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, a group of independent pork producers, the Michigan Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Producers Council, made the agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, who was defending USDA in the case.

For starters, the group contends they were co-defendents in the case, so they’re opposing the settlement. Court records indicate checkoff opponents are listed as an intervener, not co-defendant.

Also, the coalition of checkoff opponents plans to file a lawsuit against USDA. “It’s our contention that Secretary Ann Veneman doesn’t have the authority not to terminate the checkoff,” contends Rhonda Perry, spokesperson for The Campaign for Family Farms. "We are going to do whatever it takes to get this checkoff terminated."

The settlement allows the checkoff program to continue until at least June 2003, when USDA will survey eligible pork producers and importers to determine if 15 percent or more of them favor a referendum.

Producers, USDA Settle Checkoff Dispute -- National Program Will Continue