Beef Checkoff Under Legal Fire

US - The checkoff program that provides for the collection of $1 each time a head of cattle is sold in the country may be under legal fire, but the head of the Florida Beef Council thinks it will survive.
calendar icon 29 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Jim Handley, who is also executive vice-president of the Florida Cattleman's Association, spoke Thursday to more than 100 people dining on barbecue chicken and slabs of beef ribs at the Bartow Civic Center.

The Greater Bartow Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the Farm City Luncheon, where Handley delivered his talk about the importance of beef and its checkoff program.

After providing some general information about cattle -- including the fact that cattle have been in Florida for 400 years -Handley talked about the checkoff program.

"Like the citrus industry, there is some pending litigation against our checkoff program," Handley said. "Many of these challenges of the constitutionality of the checkoff program are a result of the ruling in the mushroom industry.

"But in our case, we feel as though our law is significantly different, and will hold up," he said. "If it doesn't, we'll implement our voluntary program."

The checkoff program, which brings in some $80 million per year to the industry, sponsors such advertising campaigns as "Beef. It's What's For Dinner."

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the national beef checkoff is constitutional, even as similar programs have been struck down by other federal judges as a violation of free speech. U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's decision came in the case of a Montana ranching couple who refused to pay $1-perhead tax on some cattle, and faced more than $12,000 in penalties and past charges.

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