A federal district court judge in South Dakota has ruled that the beef checkoff is unconstitutional and must end by July 15, 2002. Judge Charles Kornmann ruled the checkoff violates cattlemen's First Amendment constitutional rights.

Montana Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President Steve Pilcher says the industry is “looking forward to a speedy and successful appeal of the decision.”

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman responds that the beef checkoff has helped beef demand and exports and has been supported by the majority of cattle producers. She said USDA is consulting with the Department of Justice to determine a course of action.