The Roundup -

A Steak in Ag

A Monthly Report by R-CALF USA


R-CALF USA may be defined as a non-profit producer organization, but our work benefits anyone who eats meat and lives in an economy that includes agriculture. We’re more than a producer organization; we’re your organization!

Recently USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed a set of rules to implement key provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA). The Fair Practices Rules (aka GIPSA rules) are intended to facilitate competition in the livestock and poultry markets. First proposed in 2010, the rules met fierce opposition by meatpacker lobbyists who succeeded in blocking them through several back-to-back appropriations bills.

The U.S. cattle industry is declining at an alarming rate. More than half a million cattle farms, ranches and feedlots have exited the industry since 1980, the size of the U.S. cattle herd recently hit a 60-year low, and the volume of beef produced from U.S. cattle has fallen to a 20-year low.

This decline is not the result of any natural phenomenon or legitimate economic force; it’s the result of a failure to use the laws we have to protect competition. The new rules are aimed at implementing those critical protections. They do this by clearly defining the rules of competition and by allowing producers to enforce those rules. This means that producers will no longer have to wait for the federal government to act when they see that the rules of competition are being violated.

A Montana federal judge recently released an initial ruling agreeing with R-CALF USA that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beef Checkoff program violates the First Amendment. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston recommended that the district court halt the transfer of money to the Montana Beef Council, in a decision that could have national implications.

The Government has 14 days to object to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation. Should the district court uphold Judge Johnston’s findings and recommendations, a preliminary injunction would be issued to ensure that Montana cattle producers’ money did not fund the beef council’s private speech without their consent while the lawsuit proceeds on its merits.

We are encouraged by the recommendation, even though it is still subject to the district court’s review, because it marks the first time in well over a decade that anyone within any of our three branches of government has agreed to take a critical look at our complaints regarding the illicit operations of the beef checkoff program.

Our checkoff-related complaints regarding misappropriation of funds, conflicts of interest and unlawful checkoff operations have been repeatedly and summarily ignored by Congress and the executive branches of government for many years. We’re thankful for the opportunity to have our concerns heard by an independent branch of government that is not influenced by the intense, high-dollar lobbying efforts of the multinational meatpackers and their so-called producer-group allies.

For additional information on any of the topics mentioned, please visit

R-CALF USA is funded solely by donations and membership dues. Please consider becoming a member and giving a donation. For more info or to join, go to, 406-252-2516.


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