The U.S. Supreme Court has set aside a lower court ruling that declared the Pork Checkoff unconstitutional. This in effect returns the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati with instructions to reconsider the case in light of the high-court's ruling last week concerning the beef checkoff.

In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court declared in Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association that the Beef Promotion Act does not violate the First Amendment.  The majority opinion stated that speech produced by the Cattleman’s Beef Board in keeping with the Beef Promotion Act is government speech, which is immune from First Amendment challenges.

A similar challenge to the national pork checkoff had been on hold at the Supreme Court, awaiting a decision on the beef checkoff case. The Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari inJohanns v. Campaign for Family Farms (the pork checkoff case), then returned it to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration.

“We believe this is good news for the majority of pork producers who support the work being done on their behalf through the pork checkoff,” says Dave Culbertson, president of the National Pork Board, which collects checkoff funds and oversees spending for pork-industry promotion, research and education programs.

“Checkoff opponents have unfairly tried to make this a case of big producers against small producers,” Culbertson notes. “The record will show that checkoff programs are at work on behalf of producers running all sized operations and production styles."

Culbertson says the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step toward the final resolution of what has been a lengthy legal process. “We look forward to the conclusion of this case so that all producers can come together to move the industry forward and to focus precious industry resources on improving the marketplace for pork.”

Source: National Pork Board