FRESNO, Calif., May 23 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest court decision on
agricultural commodity programs is good news for California's farmers. By a
6-3 vote, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the
Beef Promotion and Research Order.
"Tens of thousands of California farmers vote on a regular basis to keep
these promotional programs in place," said Blair Richardson, chairman of the
California Agricultural Issues Forum, an organization of California commodity
groups that filed a brief with the court in support of the beef program. "A
handful of dissenters are using the courts to try to overturn what the
majority wants. This decision is a win for farmers and for the future of
farming in California." The California Agricultural Issues Forum represents
more than a dozen commodities including tree fruit, fresh grapes, avocados,
tomatoes and cherries.
The court reviewed the constitutional challenge to the Beef Order, known
for its "Beef, it's what's for dinner" advertisements and decided that the
speech from the government-created program was protected from constitutional
challenge because it is government speech and thus exempt from First Amendment
"We are gratified by the court's decision," said Randolph Moss, of Wilmer
Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, attorneys for the California Agricultural
Issues Forum. "This is a significant victory."
Similar programs exist in California for over 50 crops, including grapes,
tree fruit, walnuts, milk, salmon, beef, rice, wheat, asparagus, tomatoes and
olives. Their promotional messages are set by statute and they are under the
control of either the California or U.S. agriculture departments.
Moss noted that the decision did not focus on the specifics of the beef
message but rather on the fact that " ... Congress and the Secretary have set
out the overarching messages and some of its elements, and they have left the
development of the remaining details to an entity whose members are answerable
to the Secretary ... " "As a result," said Moss, "this is an important
decision that makes clear that mandatory commodity programs like the one
upheld today are the work and the speech of the government. It is a decision
that will apply to a wide range of commodity programs."
Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, echoed
Moss' views. "This is a significant win for the thousands of farmers in
California who believe they need to work together under the auspices of
government in order to survive in the global marketplace."
SOURCE California Table Grape Commission