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Beef checkoff hammered -- again

And the same could be true for producer-funded promotional advertising for pork, mushrooms and other commodities if similar court rulings are upheld, some organizations are saying.

The latest ruling was handed down by a three-judge panel from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court in St. Louis. It said that U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann of South Dakota “did not err in holding that the Beef Act and Beef order are unconstitutional and unenforceable.” The ruling could be appealed to the entire court.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman issued a statement affirming USDA’s support for checkoff programs.

“I am disappointed that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling,” she said. “USDA regards such programs, when properly administered, as effective tools for market enhancement.”

In its ruling, the 8th Circuit panel said it could not help but be influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2001 ruling that a similar producer-funded promotion program for mushrooms was unconstitutional. “The beef checkoff program, is in material respects, identical to the mushroom program.”

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