Five Questions With Beef Board's Hanes

Cattlemen's Beef Board CEO Hanes Offers Insight on Checkoff Under Fire in Court


By Todd Neeley, DTN/ Progressive Farmer



LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- DTN recently spoke to Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen's Beef Board, following a decision by a federal court in Washington, D.C., to continue a lawsuit against USDA challenging the constitutionality of the Beef Checkoff program.


We talked to him about how the ongoing legal pursuits affect the program and what if anything the board is doing to bridge differences between various interest groups in the cattle industry.


Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA, filed suit in September 2020 alleging USDA changes to the program were done without following the Administrative Procedures Act. R-CALF alleges USDA "substantively amended" the program by entering into certain agreements with state beef councils without following notice-and-comment rulemaking.


On May 2, 2016, R-CALF sued USDA, alleging the federal Beef Checkoff program amounts to a "government-compelled subsidy of private speech of a private entity," and argued it was unconstitutional.


USDA then entered into memoranda of understanding with 20 state beef councils in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.


Here are five questions DTN posed to Hanes and his responses: