The District Court for the District of Montana has allowed the Montana Beef Council, Nebraska Beef Council, Pennsylvania Beef Council, Texas Beef Council, and three individuals to join in R-CALF USA’s beef checkoff lawsuit, a request made with R-CALF USA’s consent. The lawsuit was recently expanded to include 15 state beef councils, including those now joined as parties.

Chaley Harney, executive director for the Montana Beef Council, said they entered the lawsuit to make sure that the voice of Montana cattlemen is heard directly on the issue which impacts them so greatly. Because of the original lawsuit which required Montana beef producers to consent to their funds being directed to the state beef council, in-state funds have dropped considerably for use in Montana.

In their request to join the case, the beef councils argued they are entitled to join because their interests in accessing and using beef checkoff money are different from those of the government. They explained they are entitled to retain “state-specific control” over the checkoff money, where the state activities are directed by a non-governmental board, without committing to input from all producers. R-CALF USA stated this is in direct contradiction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) statements that it remedies the earlier constitutional problems with the beef checkoff program by requiring all councils to subject themselves to USDA review.