The U.S. Supreme Court may soon decide whether commodity group “checkoff” are constitutional. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from both sides in a case that challenges whether the beef check-off is constitutional. Nancy Degner, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Beef Industry Council,says she’s never heard an outcry from Iowa cattle producers about the check-off. The beef industry created the “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign used the check-off funds. Back in 1970, Iowa Cattlemen establish a per-head fee when livestock’s sold, a “check-off” that’s used for beef promotion efforts.Degner says the federal beef check-off went into effect in 1986. She says Iowa Cattlemen have overwhelmingly supported the program.Degner says the check-off was endorsed by over 70 percent of Iowa livestock producers every time a vote’s been held. Fourteen commodity groups have similar “check-offs” that are assessed for the sale of everything from corn to beans to turkey. A spokesman for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, one of the groups seeking to end the check-off, did not respond to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview. That group has argued the check-offs are unconstitutional — a violation of the First Amendment.
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