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Industry Update

Supreme Court to hear checkoff case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear an appeal of an earlier 8th Circuit Appellate Court ruling that found the beef checkoff unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment. The final Supreme Court decision is expected sometime in the first half of 2005, a National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) news release reported. According to the release, 30 state attorney generals, including Puerto Rico, and 48 industry organizations requested the Supreme Court review the case.

The court’s decision to hear the case comes as no surprise to many in the beef industry.

"The U.S. Supreme Court typically hears cases when federal statutes are ruled unconstitutional, when requested to do so by the government," said Billy Perrin, president of the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) — one of the organizations challenging the constitutionality of the beef checkoff.

COOL bill anticipated, amendment introduced

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) officials are expecting some members of the House of Representatives and its Agriculture Committee to introduce a country-of-origin labeling (often referred to as COOL or COL) bill after the Memorial Day recess. A draft of the legislation calls for Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman to implement a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program, which would mandate the labeling of U.S. product to be from cattle born, raised and processed in the United States and amend the current labeling law at a lower cost to producers, NCBA reports. The bill, if passed, would also amend labeling laws for pork, lamb, fruits, vegetables and fish.

In the Senate, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would require implementation of the current labeling law on Sept. 30, 2004, rather than 2006.

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