KLA: R-CALF lawsuit threatens producer control of state checkoff programs

A federal district court in Montana recently issued an order that expands the scope of an ongoing lawsuit over the beef checkoff. The action adds Kansas and 13 other states to a case previously involving the checkoff in Montana. R-CALF filed suit against USDA to stop checkoff programs funded by the portion of checkoff collections allowed to be retained by the Montana Beef Council. The court has issued a preliminary injunction that precludes the Montana Beef Council from spending checkoff dollars without prior consent of cattle producers who have paid the checkoff. At this time, the preliminary injunction does not apply to programs executed by the Kansas Beef Council, nor the 13 other states recently added to the case.

“It is very disappointing that R-CALF, supposedly an organization representing the interests of cattle producers, would team up with an activist group with close ties to the Humane Society of the United States, a sworn enemy of animal agriculture,” said Kansas Livestock Association President Lee Reeve, a cattle feeder and farmer from Garden City. “If successful, this lawsuit will silence producer voices and stifle the demand-building programs directed by cattlemen and cattlewomen who volunteer to serve on the Kansas Beef Council Executive Committee.”

The lawsuit is intended to defund the Federation of State Beef Councils, which is a division of NCBA. NCBA Chief Executive Officer Kendal Frazier said the organization will defend the state beef councils and cattle producers against R-CALF’s attack on the checkoff.