The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Montana Federal District Court granted USDA summary judgment in the case of the Ranchers-Cattleman Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) vs. USDA. In the suit, R-CALF USA alleged the use of industry assessments collected by state beef councils for advertising and promotional materials violated the First Amendment rights of beef producers. The Court found that speech by Qualified State Beef Councils that have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the USDA is government speech.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight of state beef councils and national research and promotion boards such as the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.
Since 1966, Congress has authorized industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.