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Agricultural News

Out of State Groups Plan Legal Challenge to Oklahoma Beef Checkoff Vote

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 06:34:55 CDT

Out of State Groups Plan Legal Challenge to Oklahoma Beef Checkoff Vote A legal challenge is being planned against the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff vote by two out of state activist organizations. R-Calf USA, based in Billings, Montana and the Organization for Competitive Markets, based in Lincoln, Nebraska have plans to file a lawsuit in Oklahoma to stop voting now underway for the secondary state beef checkoff referendum that was authorized earlier this year by the Oklahoma Department of Agricultrure.

In a memo dated October 7th, R-Calf updated members and affiliates about plans to initiate a lawsuit against the parties involved with the State Beef Checkoff in Oklahoma. Bullard cited recent action that his group has taken credit for against the Montana Beef Council that has forced the state half of the federal dollar to be sent on to the Cattlemen's Beef Board instead of being invested in Montana. The Judge in that legal action has decreed that state beef council in Montana must obtain the permission of state cattle producers before they can keep any of the federal checkoff they are collecting.

In the case of the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff vote, now underway with mail in ballots being accepted until October 27th- to be followed by the actual one day of in person voting planned on November first at any OSU Cooperative Extension office in the state of Oklahoma, the two out of state groups say they have one Oklahoma citizen lined up and are looking for a cattle produced that agrees with R-Calf that will be the plantiffs in any legal action initiated by RCalf and OCM.

According to the memo from R-Calf- "Our plan is to file a lawsuit in the state of Oklahoma as quickly as possible to obtain an injunction to stop the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff Referendum on grounds that it violates Oklahoma's Constitution, state statutes and administrative rules.

"We will work with the Organization for Competitive Markets on this to minimize costs to our respective organizations.

"The plaintiffs in the case will not be R-CALF USA and OCM, but will be an Oklahoma R-CALF USA member and an Oklahoma member of OCM. R-CALF USA is looking for an Oklahoma member willing to be a plaintiff. The member from OCM who will be a plaintiff is former Oklahoma State Senator and current rancher Paul Muegge.

"We estimate our total cost for this effort, including legal fees, travel costs and materials and other resources will be about $20,000."

The memo then goes on to solicit "a beef checkoff paying rancher in Oklahoma" willing to be a plantiff in the effort to stop the Oklahoma Beef Checkoff vote. The memo indicated that R-Calf's goal was to file a lawsuit within ten days (with the clock starting last Saturday).

No details were given as to who might be sued- but since the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture authorized the referendum, it's likely they will be named in any legal action brought forward by the out of state groups.

A public hearing was held June 14th by the State Department of Ag on the petitions submitted by the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association asking for the vote- click here for our story about that hearing where no opposition was raised by anyone to the plan for a vote and adoption of the secondary state beef checkoff dollar.

Oklahoma Secretary of Ag Jim Reese reviewed the request and gave approval for the referendum to proceed- that was signed on June 28th- saying "on the basis of testimony presented at the public hearing, the petitioning organization is representative of the producers of cattle in the state of Oklahoma and that the petition conforms to the purposes and provisions of the Oklahoma Commodity research Enhancement Act, I designate the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association as authorized to conduct a state assessment referendum pursuant to Title 2 of the Oklahoma Statues 5:63.3 utilizing the process outlined in testimony at the public hearing."

Click or tap here for our story that includes the PDF from Secretary Reese authorizing the vote for a refundable assessment under state law.



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