Utah’s Ag-Gag Law Violates First Amendment But Producers Still Have Options

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Image of milking parlor by Living Landscape Architecture

This is not a substitute for legal advice.

Recently, the federal district court in Utah found that Utah’s ag-gag law violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Animal Legal Defense Fund, 2017). Before this, the federal district court in Idaho had found Idaho’s ag-gag law to violate the U.S. Constitution (Idaho is currently appealing that decision before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals). Although these laws potentially violate the Constitution, producers still have options. In many cases, producers can work with producer groups to conduct audits on the operation to determine that current practices are up to date. Producers can make sure employees have the proper training and tools to conduct tasks. Always conduct background checks before hiring new employees, and utilizing employment contracts and employee handbooks can help limit many of the issues that ag-gag laws are designed to address. Continue reading

Federal Magistrate’s Findings in Beef Check-off Case Could Have Lasting Impacts

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Photo Source Keith Weller commons.wikimedia.org

 

This post is not legal advice

Many of you have heard the slogan “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” in advertising to promote the use of beef in a healthy diet. But if you were a beef producer would you consider this type of generic beef advertising to be a violation of your First Amendment rights? Would you want this generic advertising to promote American beef? Or beef produced in your home state? A federal lawsuit touching on these issues has been progressing in a federal district court in Montana this year, and a federal magistrate judge has recently recommended to the federal court to allow a challenge to the beef advertising be allowed to continue.   Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) and United Stockgrowers of America brought the action against Secretary Vilsack and USDA.     The beef check-off program created by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (Act) and the check-off pays for the generic advertising to promote beef. The Act allows qualified state beef councils to collect the beef check-off dollars. These qualifying state beef councils must agree to follow similar promotional activities as the federal Cattlemen’s Beef Production and Research Board (Board). In Montana, the group is the Montana Beef Council.

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