Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Cornhusker Economics, 12/18/2002. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Over the past thirty-five years, Congress has authorized generic promotion programs, known as checkoff programs, for a variety of agricultural commodities. Within the past year, the beef checkoff has been invalidated, the pork checkoff has been invalidated, and the legality of the beef checkoff has been upheld. The two cases invalidating checkoff programs relied on U.S. Supreme Court rulings that checkoff programs violated the producers free speech rights. The one case ruling the beef checkoff constitutional characterized the checkoff advertising program as government speech, which is exempt from constitutional free speech protections. This article takes a look at legal issues associated with commodity checkoff programs.