Ninth Circuit Affirms USDA Win Over Challenge to Checkoff Program

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to the United States Department of Agriculture and several intervening state beef councils in a lawsuit brought by a cattle producers’ association challenging the agency’s administration of the national beef checkoff program under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985. At issue was whether noncontractual transfers of checkoff funds to third parties to produce promotional materials that are not pre-approved by USDA comprised an unconstitutional compelled subsidy of private speech. The court held that such speech made by third parties under these arrangements is effectively government speech.