Grand Rapids, Mich. A federal appeals court has upheld a judge's decision declaring the U.S. Department of Agriculture's pork-checkoff program unconstitutional.
A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled unfavorably Wednesday on an appeal filed by the USDA and the Lansing, Mich.-based Michigan Pork Producers Assn. They can appeal the panel's unanimous decision to the full Circuit Court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It has been almost a year since U.S. District Judge Richard A. Enslen in Kalamazoo, Mich., ruled against the National Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985.
The federal law spawned the USDA-supervised checkoff program, which started the following year. The $54 million program is financed through a mandatory fee, called a "checkoff," which now amounts to 40 cents for every $100 of a sold pig's value.
The fees collected from farmers also are used for research and consumer information.