By a vote of 6-3, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, overturning lower court decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and the U.S. District Court for Montana, which ruled the measure unconstitutional. "I am extremely pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the lower courts' decisions and ruled in favor of the Beef Checkoff Program," says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "This is certainly a win for the many producers who recognize the power of pooled resources. As this administration has always contended, USDA regards such programs, when properly administered, as effective tools for market enhancement."

As a result of this decision, the Beef Checkoff Program will continue without interruption. USDA is reviewing this decision to determine its implications for other first amendment challenges to checkoff programs.

Under the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985, the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board develops budgets and awards contracts to carry out a coordinated program designed to strengthen the position of beef in the marketplace. One such contract resulted in the highly recognizable "Beef - It's What's for Dinner" campaign.

The mandatory program is funded by an assessment of $1/head collected each time cattle are sold. All producers owning and marketing cattle, regardless of the size of their operation or the value of their cattle, must pay the assessment. A comparable assessment is collected on all imported cattle, beef and beef products.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service monitors operation of the board.