COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Missouri Rural Crisis Center is raising a lawsuit to stop the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture from proceeding with voting referendum of a $1 per head state beef checkoff tax. The suit has been filed in the Cole County Circuit Court, where the hearing of the injunction for March 21.
Beef producers are already charged $1 per head for the National Beef checkoff that benefits research education, and promotion. That comes out to more than $2 million a year, according to the Missouri Rural Crisis Center website. This extra dollar would go toward the Missouri Beef Industry Council.
“The Missouri Department of Ag (MDA) is trying to shove through a bogus election to impose a 100 percent increase in beef checkoff taxes on all of Missouri’s 50,000 cattle producers,” said Rhonda Perry, a cattle producer and program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
The Missouri Rural Crisis Center argued in the legal filing that the Ag Department’s referendum process disenfranchises voters, discourages producers from registering and voting, dilutes the vote of many producers and undermines the integrity of the election.
In order to be eligible to vote, cattle producers must register before March 4. Election ballots will be mailed out April 4 and must be returned by April 15. Results will be announced April 25.