An independent review validated the price tag of the “Pork. The Other White Meat” and Pork trademarks, but that doesn’t mean the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) lawsuit will be dropped.
The lawsuit revolves around the 2006 sale of the trademarks between the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) for $35 million, approved to by boards from both organizations and the Secretary of Agriculture. The payment was spaced over 20 years, amounting to $3 million annually.
In 2011, the National Pork Board retired the “Other White Meat” and launched a new slogan, “Pork. Be Inspired.”
The country’s consumers took notice – as did the HSUS.
The following year the HSUS filed its lawsuit challenging the USDA’s approval of the agreement and annual payments and the use of Pork Checkoff funds to pay for the trademarks. It contended the trademarks had been overvalued.
A judge dismissed the case in 2012, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that no one had suffered any injury from the Secretary of Agriculture’s actions.
A federal appellate court disagreed, reversing the decision in 2015. The USDA and HSUS entered into a “stipulation agreement” in December 2015, pending a review of the agreement. The review, completed by Stout Risius Ross, confirmed the value of the trademarks was worth “more than the original price and the remaining principal balance.”
According to POLITICO, NPPC Director of Communications Dave Warner praised the finding.
“[The finding] proves it's just a move of the Humane Society to kill this program," he said. "We're going to oppose bad legislation proposed by the Humane Society of the United States. And that's the point of this lawsuit."
A stay on the lawsuit was lifted Monday and both parties are scheduled to file status reports later this week.
HSUS isn’t backing down though.
"We'll continue the legal challenge," Matt Penzer, the Humane Society's attorney, told POLITICO. "We don't see anything in the evaluation that changes our position that they never should have entered into the contract in the first place."
He told PORK Network, “If the government won’t do the right thing and stop these funds from being unlawfully funneled to a lobbying group to fuel activities harmful to family farmers and animal welfare, then we’ll seek to protect them in court.”
For more on the review, see “‘Other White Meat’ worth $132 million, but...”