The U.S. Department of Justice's request for a review of an appeal court's ruling striking down the pork checkoff program should be determined by the end of May, according to National Pork Board officials.

In the fall of 2003, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2002 ruling by a Michigan federal judge that the pork checkoff program is unconstitutional.

Congress created the pork checkoff so pork producers could provide promotion, research and consumer information about pork. Producers invest 40¢ for each $100 value of hogs and pigs sold.

If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, it could be on the docket in the fall. If the higher court turns down the request, all pork checkoff functions would end within 30 days.