R-CALF Checkoff Lawsuit Advances: Industry Reacts

This week Montana Federal District Court Judge Brian Morris
granted a motion by R-CALF USA to expand its beef checkoff lawsuit
against USDA to include at least 13 states in addition to Montana.
Under the injunction, the $1 beef checkoff is still collected, and
the money is sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Montana ranchers
who wish for half of their dollar to go to the Montana Beef Council
to promote beef must complete a producer consent form that allows
the CBB to send the funds to Montana.

R-CALF and NCBA respond to the news. Press play for
response.

Below are the response by R-CALF USA and the National
Cattlemen’s Beef Association

NCBA Response:

Activists Allowed to Expand Attack on Beef Checkoff

DENVER (Nov. 6, 2018) – The announcement that R-CALF will be
allowed to expand its activist-funded crusade against state beef
councils is a disappointment to countless beef producers and NCBA
members across America. The phony allegations being perpetuated by
R-CALF and its activist legal partners are without merit and only
serve to divide beef producers and distract beef councils from the
important work of building demand for our products.

“The simple fact is that regular audits of the beef checkoff
and NCBA have found both to be compliant with the laws governing
the checkoff. Two audits conducted by USDA’s Office of the
Inspector General have also come back clean. R-CALF’s accusations
to the contrary are false,” said Kendal Frazier, NCBA Chief
Executive Officer. “R-CALF has become nothing more than a front
group for activists seeking to divide the industry, lessen beef
demand and drive producers out of business.”

Accusations that dollars invested in the Federation of State
Beef Councils are being misused are equally false. NCBA has a
longstanding commitment to the beef checkoff and the state beef
councils, whose collections and demand-building work pre-date the
federal checkoff. NCBA is firm in its commitment to defend both the
checkoff and state beef councils against outside attacks. The
volunteer cattlemen and cattlewomen who serve on state beef council
boards are committed to improving the beef business and demand for
our products and they do not deserve the attacks being leveled by
these activist groups.

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that these attacks by R-CALF
are being aided by allies at the Humane Society of the United
States, Food and Water Watch, Public Justice and other activist
organizations that stand against cattlemen and women. These groups
know that beef demand is increasing in the United States and
abroad, in part due to work funded by the checkoff. These
achievements make the beef checkoff and other agriculture industry
self-help mechanisms a target for organizations and individuals
driving a vegetarian agenda.

“It’s unfortunate that R-CALF has chosen to become a puppet
in the war being waged by animal rights activists and the
vegetarians seeking to drive beef producers out of business.
Let’s be clear, though, the groups aligning with R-CALF are
choosing a future with shrinking beef demand, less opportunity and
more government involvement,” said Frazier. “That’s not the
future NCBA members choose, so we will defend the beef checkoff and
cattle producers against these attacks.”
R-CALF USA Response:

Federal Court Grants R-CALF USA’s Motion to Expand Its Beef
Checkoff Case to at Least 13 More States

Billings, Mont. – Today, the federal district court in Montana
granted R-CALF USA’s motion to expand its beef checkoff program
lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to
include at least 13 states in addition to Montana.

The district court in Montana previously granted, and the
appellate court recently upheld, a preliminary injunction
temporarily stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from
violating the U.S. Constitution by compelling cattle producers in
Montana to pay for the private speech of the private Montana Beef
Council without first obtaining consent from producers.

R-CALF USA requested the court to expand the case to include
these additional states in which producers are similarly required
to pay for the private speech of their respective private beef
councils without their consent.

Today’s ruling on R-CALF USA’s motion does not apply the
temporary injunction in effect in Montana to the additional states.
Instead, it allows R-CALF USA to proceed with its original case in
which it seeks a permanent injunction against the USDA for
violating the Constitution. If successful, the permanent injunction
would likely cover cattle producers in each of the new states.

The court granted the USDA 14 days to file an answer to R-CALF
USA’s complaint and the case now proceeds with the additional
states.

Under the preliminary injunction in effect in Montana, cattle
producers can individually decide if they want half the mandatory
assessments collected from them to be spent by the private Montana
Beef Council or all of it sent to the beef checkoff program’s
Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB), where it is subject to governmental
fiscal controls.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the state beef councils have
been sending about $10 million in checkoff funds each year directly
to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a political
lobbying group, to fund that group’s Federation of State Beef
Councils, and those monies are not subject to the same fiscal
controls imposed on the CBB.

“By redirecting their money to the CBB rather than to their
state beef councils, cattle producers can reduce the amount of
money now flowing to the NCBA under the group’s pay-to-play
scheme, which we believe is a form of money laundering,” said
Bullard.

Bullard added that if R-CALF USA’s lawsuit is successful,
cattle producers in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska,
Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin will all have their
constitutional rights protected and will no longer be compelled to
subsidize private or corporate speech.

Attorneys for R-CALF USA include lead counsel David Muraskin, a
Food Project Attorney at Public Justice, J. Dudley Butler, of the
Farm and Ranch Law Group, and Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Law, P.C.
in Missoula, Montana.

Northern Ag Network, R-CALF USA, NCBA.

Source: FS – All – Food and Nutrition Blogs
R-CALF Checkoff Lawsuit Advances: Industry Reacts