U.S. Supreme Court declines beef checkoff charge

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DENVER – The U.S. Supreme Court denied Kansas cattleman Jerry Goetz’s request for review of a claim that he should not have to pay the $1-per-head beef checkoff.

By its action, the high court refused to even consider Goetz’s charge that the checkoff program is unconstitutional.

Goetz filed his latest petition with the Supreme Court Aug. 9, 2001, after his claims were rejected by the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the petition, Goetz argued that the April 2001 ruling against him by the 10th Circuit should be vacated and reconsidered in light of that court’s June 2001 ruling in the United States vs. United Foods. That case focused on the mushroom industry’s checkoff.

Separate challenge. The beef checkoff faces a separate challenge of its constitutionality by the Livestock Marketing Association in a suit that goes before a South Dakota U.S. District Court Dec. 20, 2001.

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling lets stand the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that Goetz pay more than $136,000 in beef checkoff assessments, late fees and civil penalties.

The beef checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill and assesses beef and dairy producers $1 per head at the time of sale. The checkoff is collected by qualified state beef councils, which retain up to 50 cents on the dollar.

The state councils forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which oversees the national checkoff program.

The beef checkoff assessment became mandatory when the program was approved by 79 percent of producers in a 1988 national referendum vote. Checkoff revenues may be used for promotion, education and research programs to improve the marketing climate for beef.

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