Supreme Court to Hear Cattlemen’s Beef

CHICAGO The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case challenging the mandatory checkoff of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and its marketing programs.

The decision, which is not expected until the first half of 2005, will likely have an effect on similar challenges made to other advocacy programs such as the National Pork Board and the National Dairy Promotions Board. The decision also means the Pork Board will likely continue the review of its $10 million advertising account, currently at Campbell Mithun, Chicago [Adweek, May 24].

In July 2003, the 8th Circuit Appellate Court ruled the mandatory checkoff violated First Amendment guarantees to free speech. The checkoff finances the NCBA’s $30 million campaign tagged, “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.” That effort is handled by Leo Burnett in Chicago.

The checkoff in question mandates that livestock producers contribute $1 per head of beef to finance the campaign. The Livestock Marketing Association and the Western Organization of Resource Councils charged the mandatory nature of the checkoff violates their free speech rights.