Friday, March 25, 2005

What happens if the Supreme Court kicks out the beef checkoff?

Mike Barnett, editor of Texas Agriculture, covered the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the beef checkoff. If the beef checkoff is overturned, other USDA-sponsored checkoff programs may also be invalidated in cases that take the beef decision as a precedent. However, Texas and several other states are enacting preemptive legislation that may establish state-sponsored checkoff programs fairly quickly in the event of an unfavorable Supreme Court decision.
So what's going to happen?

"Nobody knows," [Dallas attorney Will] Ellerman said. "It's a very divided court in a number of ways. I expect them to be divided. The fact that the court has even heard this case is significant." Ellerman says a ruling—expected this spring or early summer—will apply positively or negatively to the beef checkoff only.

But a number of judges in other checkoff cases are waiting to see what the Supreme Court does before rendering decisions. "What those courts will do at that time, they'll take the opinion of the beef case and apply it to those cases and come to a result," Ellerman said. "I expect they'll apply it similarly to how the Supreme Court approaches it's opinion in the beef case."

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