Per the Billings-Gazette, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, (R-CALF USA) filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the US Department of Agriculture. They contend that beef checkoff fees, a mandatory fee of one dollar per animal collected to promote beef, are not being properly spent.

Specifically, the plaintiffs contend the USDA fails to adequately promote domestic beef over beef raised elsewhere in its advertising. As stated in the complaint, “Through the federal Beef Checkoff, R-CALF USA’s members are required to pay a $1 per head of cattle assessment which finances the program’s speech that fails to distinguish between domestic and foreign beef and/or communicates that all beef is equal.” The plaintiffs further allege in their complaint that, “R-CALF USA’s members are being required to subsidize private speech with which they disagree, a plain violation of the First Amendment.”

J. Dudley Butler, co-counsel for R-CALF USA told the Cattle Site, “This is not only a battle to protect constitutional rights but a battle to ensure that our food supply is not corralled and constrained by multi-national corporations leaving independent farmers and ranchers as mere serfs on their own land.”

A copy of the complaint is available here.