The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Michigan Pork Producers Association have asked a federal district court judge to rule on the constitutionality of the pork checkoff program.

The request was made July 20 in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan. The court also has been asked to rule on the legality of the settlement agreement between NPPC and USDA.

“In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the mushroom case, we believe it is both pertinent and an efficient use of the court's resources to settle the constitutional question now,” says NPPC President Barb Determan, a pork producer from Early, IA.

In the mushroom court case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the assessments on handlers of fresh mushrooms to pay for generic mushroom advertising violated the First Amendment's free speech guarantee. The high court had earlier upheld a challenge to mandatory assessments on California tree fruit producers.

The latest request by the two pork producer groups is for the court to declare that Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman acted within her discretion and authority in entering into a settlement agreement continuing the pork checkoff program. The parties also asked the court to declare that the pork checkoff program does not violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.