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Beef promotion effort ruled constitutional

(Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Washington Post, 11/01/02: BILLINGS, Mont. -- A federal judge ruled yesterday that the national beef checkoff is constitutional, even as similar programs have been struck down by other federal judges as a violation of free speech.

U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's decision came in the case of a Montana ranching couple who refused to pay $1-per-head tax on some cattle, and faced more than $12,000 in penalties and past charges.

Steve and Jeanne Charter argued that the checkoff violated their rights as independent producers by forcing them to pay for advertising campaigns they did not necessarily agree with.

Half of the money from the checkoff, which yearly collects about $86 million, goes to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board and half to qualified state beef councils. The groups use the slogan "Beef: It's what's for dinner" in advertising.