R-Calf in Montana Granted a Motion to Include 13 Other States in Lawsuit


The Federal district court in Montana has granted a motion for R-Calf, the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consolidate 13 additional states in the action.

The USDA is under injunction not to compel cattle producers in Montana to pay the Montana Beef Council without obtaining consent from producers. According to a report in the Kansas Ag Connection on November 6th, cattle producers can individually decide if they want half of the mandatory assessments collected to be spent by the Montana Beef Council or alternatively all of their contributions to be assigned to the Cattleman’s Beef Board checkoff program under the control of the USDA-AMS.

R-Calf claim that the various state beef councils have been sending as much as $10 million in checkoff funds annually to the National Cattleman’s Beef association which serves as a lobbying group without the strict controls imposed on the Cattleman’s Beef Board.

For a number of years, discontent in the beef industry has been simmering, and the use of checkoff funds is an important consideration among producers belonging to industry groups administered by the USDA. Generally checkoff funds can be used for research, promotion of a commodity and educational purposes with the objective of ethical promotion of a product. Federal law disallows funds to be used for lobbying or promotion of commercial entities or brands or disparagement of products or companies.