Suit filed against beef checkoff program
The Kansas City Star reports that a group of small farmers and ranchers has filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging that the nationwide beef promotion program is improperly using funds to lobby politicians on behalf of large agricultural interests.
Kansas rancher Mike Callicrate filed the lawsuit last week against the secretary of agriculture, the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, and other entities, according to reporter Mike McGraw. He wrote:
Callicrate is an officer in the Organization for Competitive Markets, which has been critical of the beef checkoff program for years. Callicrate’s lawsuit contends millions of dollars from the program have been improperly given to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which he alleges is primarily a policy and lobbying group.
Callicrate and the Organization for Competitive Markets believe that the Cattlemen’s Beef Association lobbies on behalf of large agricultural interests and that the promotion program is therefore requiring them to contribute to an organization that works against the interests of small farmers.
In a news release, the cattlemen’s association said that the suit is an attempt to “destroy more than 25 years of market development and consumer demand building by the Beef Checkoff Program.”
The Drovers Cattle Network noted that the lawsuit will not seek a temporary injunction, which is often a common request as the legal process unfolds. Rather, the lawsuit would mean “business as usual” until the court renders a verdict, which Callicrate and the Organization for Competitive Markets hope will be a “permanent injunction.”
The Drovers Cattle Network also said the lawsuit does not seek any monetary award, nor does it request any refund or reimbursement of checkoff funds that have already been allocated.