The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the beef industry’s generic marketing program is not a violation of beef producers’ free speech.

In a six to three vote, the justices said that the generic advertising is the government’s own speech and therefore, exempt from the First Amendment challenge.

In his majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote that the federal government effectively controls the program’s message, with the agriculture secretary having final approval authority over every word in every promotional campaign. The ruling rejects the Livestock Marketing Association’s argument that the speech at issue was controlled by nongovernmental entities.

The action sets aside a U.S. appeals court ruling that said the USDA-run beef promotion program — which was adopted as part of a 1985 law — should be ended. The beef promotion program is funded by a $1 per animal fee from cattle sales. It raises more than $80 million annually.

The ruling is expected to impact other commodity check-off programs, including dairy and pork, which also face legal challenges.

Source: Washington Post