At least 8,000 cattle producers will be surveyed on their attitudes about the beef checkoff, as part of the settlement of the lawsuit challenging the checkoff that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The largest single attitude survey ever done on the checkoff was agreed to by the plaintiffs -- Livestock Marketing Association, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, Jerry Goebel, Pat Goggins, Robert Thullner, John Willis and Leo Zentner; and the defendants -- the U.S. Department of Justice, representing the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), and the Nebraska Cattlemen's Association.
In May, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled the checkoff was a government speech program and thus was immune from the First Amendment challenge brought by the plaintiffs.
The settlement was filed by the plaintiffs and defendants on March 1 with the South Dakota Federal District Court.
Separately, a stipulation dismissing all outstanding claims in the original suit was filed with the court, on behalf of all plaintiffs except Herman Schumacher and John Smith, who declined to sign the settlement agreement. Plaintiff Ernie J. Mertz asked to be dismissed as a plaintiff.
"There have been several checkoff attitude surveys, but never one that has contacted this many producers," LMA President Randy Patterson said. "With so many industry groups now talking about improving the checkoff, getting the views of a broad cross-section of producers is the logical first step, and that's why we made it part of the settlement."
And, Patterson said, LMA and the CBB "look forward to working together to promote beef in the future."
Under the terms of the settlement:
SOURCE: Livestock Marketing Association.