Got Money for Milk Advertising? Not Anymore

Lewczak, Joseph; Starr, Ivana
July 2004
Marketing Management;Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 13 Issue 4, p49
This article focuses on the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that the Dairy Promotion Program, which was established by Congress under the Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 to promote dairy products, violated the First Amendment rights of dairy producers. The Dairy Act generally requires that all producers of milk pay to the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board an assessment of 15 cents for each hundredweight of milk marketed commercially to finance and administer promotional projects. The Dairy Act does not, however, permit any dairy producers that disagree with the promotional projects to withhold payment of the assessments. A portion of the assessments collected by the Dairy Board have been used to fund the Got Milk? campaign. Tired of supporting advertising that they felt did not accurately portray their farming methods and the quality of their products, John and Brenda Cochran, operators of a dairy farm in Westfield, Pennsylvania, brought suit against the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming that the Dairy Act's assessment program violated their First Amendment rights by compelling them to speak. They also sought an injunction to stop future collection of the dairy assessment. The Third Circuit held that the Dairy Act is a stand-alone law and the compelled assessments for generic dairy advertising are not germane to a larger regulatory purpose other than the speech itself. Unlike the laws regulating tree fruit growers, the court here found that the various federal laws regulating milk producers did not create a cooperative arrangement that required the milk producers to be bound together and obligated to market their products to a specific set of rules.


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