PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 26)—A federal appeals court has declared the mandatory funding method for a milk industry promotional campaign violates free speech guarantees of the First Amendment, making it less likely the tire industry will try a similar approach.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the milk industry's "Got Milk?" checkoff campaign, by which milk producers were required to pay for a milk marketing campaign. In the past few months, federal courts have ruled against similar programs by the pork and beef industries. The tire industry has been considering its own program, but Donald B. Shea, president of the Rubber Manufacturers Association, said the court action in the three cases creates concern.
"What you need (for a checkoff program to work) is voluntary unanimity," he said.
The executive committees of both the RMA and the Tire Industry Association are meeting on the checkoff issue, and the legal counsels for both associations are studying the Third Circuit ruling, according to Becky MacDicken, TIA government affairs director.
"We don't know what will happen, but we're still hoping to gear our (checkoff) program in a way that it won't be constitutionally challenged," MacDicken said.
The latest ruling involved Pennsylvania dairy farmers who claimed the mandatory payments to fund the milk marketing campaign abrogated their rights of free speech. A federal district court judge rejected their argument, but the Third Circuit reversed the lower court