Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family, Case No. 1:01-CV-34.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
Writing for the CourtEnslen
Citation229 F.Supp.2d 772
PartiesMICHIGAN PORK PRODUCERS, et al., Plaintiffs/Intervenors/Cross-Defendants, v. CAMPAIGN FOR FAMILY FARMS, et al., Defendants/Intervenors/Cross-Plaintiffs, v. Ann Veneman, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, et al., Cross-Defendants.
Decision Date25 October 2002
Docket NumberCase No. 1:01-CV-34.
229 F.Supp.2d 772
MICHIGAN PORK PRODUCERS, et al., Plaintiffs/Intervenors/Cross-Defendants,
v.
CAMPAIGN FOR FAMILY FARMS, et al., Defendants/Intervenors/Cross-Plaintiffs,
v.
Ann Veneman, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, et al., Cross-Defendants.
Case No. 1:01-CV-34.
United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division.
October 25, 2002.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Robert Charles Timmons, Troy W. Haney, John R. Kramer and Edward M. Mansfield, Grand Rapids, MI, for Plaintiffs/Intervenors/Cross-Defendants.

Susan E. Stokes, David R. Moeller and Christopher M. Bzdok, Traverse City, MI, for Defendants/Intervenors/Cross-Plaintiffs.

W. Francesca Ferguson, Thomas Millet and Carolyn McKee, Washington, DC, for Cross-Defendants.

OPINION

ENSLEN, District Judge.


"[T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical." Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Act for Establishment of Religious Freedom (1786), codified at Va.Code Ann. § 57-1 (Miche 2002).

INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Defendants/Interveners/Cross-Plaintiffs Campaign for Family Farms ("CFF") and its named members' (together "Cross-Plaintiffs") Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Dismiss.1 It is also before the Court on the Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Michigan Pork Producers et al2 and Defendants Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and Agriculture Administrator A.J. Yates ("Governmental Defendants"). Related to the above Motions for Summary Judgment are Motions to Strike filed by both Plaintiffs and Governmental Defendants (together "Cross-Defendants").

Ignoring preliminary questions for the minute, fundamentally this case asks the question of whether the system of mandated assessments for generic pork advertising created as a result of the Pork Production, Research and Consumer Education Act of 1985, 7 U.S.C. § 4801 et seq., ("Pork Act"), i.e., an assessment of 45 cents on each $100 of pork per hog sold, violates objecting producers' First Amendment rights of free speech and association.3 The pole stars guiding this decision are the 2001 decision of the United States Supreme Court in United States v. United Foods, Inc., 533 U.S. 405, 121 S.Ct. 2334, 150 L.Ed.2d 438 (2001) and its 1997 decision

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in Glickman v. Wileman Brothers, 521 U.S. 457, 117 S.Ct. 2130, 138 L.Ed.2d 585 (1997). For the reasons which follow, the Court determines that the United Foods decision is the more pertinent precedent and that the Pork Act offends objecting producers' First Amendment rights of free speech and association.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This case began as a judicial challenge to a voluntary, "fairness" referendum of pork producers as to whether the Pork Order (the executive order authorizing the Pork Check-off Program ("Pork Program" or "Program") under the Pork Act) should continue. See Michigan Pork Producers Association v. Campaign for Family Farms, 174 F.Supp.2d 637 (W.D.Mich. 2001). The result of the previous, disputed "fairness" referendum announced on January 11, 2001, was that 15,951 producers disfavored the Program and 14,396 producers favored the Program. Id. at 639. Plaintiffs initially challenged both the counting of the votes and the legal basis for Program termination. Subsequent to the filing of the Complaint, the change in Presidential administrations brought a new Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, who settled with Plaintiffs by agreeing not to terminate the Program based on the referendum vote. Id. This settlement was subsequently upheld by the Court as within the discretion of the Secretary. Id. at 648.

Notwithstanding the determinations in the published decision, this lawsuit continued. Cross-Plaintiffs filed cross-claims against the Governmental Defendants and the Plaintiffs. The constitutional basis for the new cross-claims was the First Amendment protections for freedom of speech and association. The precedential basis for the cross-claims was the Supreme Court's decision in the United Foods case (as well as the decision below by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United Foods, Inc. v. United States, 197 F.3d 221 (6th Cir.1999), which the Supreme Court affirmed). The parties have now filed multiple dispositive motions as to such claims as well as Motions to Strike portions of the evidentiary materials. Given the abundance of briefing and the need for prompt resolution, the Court dispenses with oral argument as to the pending motions.

FACTUAL RECORD

CFF is an advocacy group composed of four sub-groups, which are also community and public interest advocacy groups. Those groups are: the Land Stewardship Project; the Illinois Stewardship Alliance; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. (Perry Exhibit 1 at 5-7; Perry Exhibit 11 at 6-7.) Each of these organizations are compromised of individual members and each include substantial numbers of hog farmers. (Schultz Exhibit 6 at 40-44; King Exhibit 2 at 68, 70 & 79; Stokes Exhibit 26 at 58-61; Stokes Exhibit 27 at 159-64; Perry Exhibit 11 at 6-7, 22-23.) In addition to these sub-groups, CFF has 540 individual members who are hog farmers. (Perry Exhibit 4 at 233-34.)

CFF's agricultural interests are to promote family farming as opposed to the vertical integration of agricultural production, i.e., factory farms. Since 1998, CFF has pursued as a primary goal the termination of the Pork Program. CFF views the Pork Program as beneficial to factory farming but antithetical to the interests of its members, who are family farmers. (See Perry Exhibit 11 at 6-9; Perry Declaration at ¶¶ 4-5, 14 & 18.) Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Pork Program is unconstitutional and an injunction preventing the operation of the Pork Program and the taking of mandatory assessments.

CFF's named members' particular objections are typical of CFF views. CFF

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members disagree with the generic advertising of pork, i.e., the "Pork, the Other White Meat" advertising program paid for by use of the mandatory fees. CFF members assert that they raise hogs (animals), not pork (processed meat), and the Program supports a commodity they do not sell.4 (Cross-Plaintiffs Brief, Dkt. No. 162, at 10.) They believe that this Program benefits packers and retailers to their detriment. (See Stokes Exhibit 12 at 1, stating that hog farmers' percentage of the revenue for each dollar of pork sold declined from 1996 to 2001 from 42.5 percent to 30.1 percent.) Cross-Plaintiffs also assert that generic advertising fails to promote the unique qualities and attributes of hogs raised on family farms. (Perry Declaration at ¶¶ 6, 7; Perry Exhibit 4 at 41-44; Joens Declaration at ¶¶ 13-14; Smith Declaration at ¶ 13.) Presumably, if Cross-Plaintiffs had control of their own advertising dollars, they might spend it in very different ways from a generic campaign. For example, a campaign to sell family farm products and to discourage consumption of mass produced pork. Cross-Plaintiffs also assert that the generic advertising promotes "lean pork" and that they are opposed to the production of excessively lean pork because of the unhealthy and inhumane conditions which they believe are connected with its production. (Perry Declaration ¶¶ 6-7; Smith Declaration ¶ 13; Schultz Exhibit 6 at 60-61.) Additionally, some CFF members disagree with the generic advertising because they believe it misrepresents pork as a white meat and discourages the sale of bacon and ham. (Cross-Plaintiffs Brief, Dkt. No. 162, at 11.)

Additionally, the Pork Program supports some name brand advertising of large processors such as Hormel or Smith-field. CFF includes members such as Perry and Joens who have chosen to slaughter their own hogs in order to market hogs raised in non-factory conditions. These members strongly oppose name brand advertising of products sold by their competitors. (Id. at 11-12; Perry Declaration at ¶ 8; Schultz Exhibit 6 at 68.) Cross-Defendants have admitted that about $800,000 of funds are used in branded ads, but have further clarified that the branded ads assert generic messages (i.e., "Pork, the Other White Meat"). (Hugh Dorminy Declaration at ¶¶ 26-27; Plaintiffs' Opposition, Dkt. No. 198, at 16.)

Pork Program funds also support certain "education" programs. Cross-Plaintiffs view these "education" programs as misinformation programs in that they propagate the view that large commercial farming operations are humane. Defendant Joens has stated:

I raise my hogs using humane methods; they are not confined in pens their entire lives, as they are in many factory hog farms. I object to my checkoff dollars being used to publish information that helps cover up the abuses of those large corporate confinement facilities.

(Joens Declaration at ¶ 7.) Defendant Smith has similarly stated:

These programs are for people that work in the corporate hog factories that have never seen a hog before they went to work for a huge conglomerate. I object because this is independent producer money going to a program that is focused on corporate hog factories and not the independent producers who believe in animal husbandry and who have been handling hogs humanely for years....

(Smith Declaration ¶ 10.) Some CFF members also object to funding of "education"

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because they adamantly oppose this method of raising livestock. (Perry Declaration ¶¶ 7-9, 11-13 & 15.)

Another portion of the allocations are dedicated to research, especially research as to the use of antibiotics. The Pork Board has apparently funded expenditures called "Antimicrobial Resistance and Alternatives Research." Some CFF members take issue with the research and believe that positions taken by the Pork Board as to antibiotics jeopardize the safe consumption of pork. (Perry Declaration at ¶ 15; Smith Declaration at ¶ 10; Schultz Declaration at ¶ 8.) This research is also...

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6 practice notes
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • July 24, 2003
    ...Commission's activities are not protected by the government speech doctrine"); Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 785-89 (W.D.Mich. 2002) (challenge of mandatory assessments for generic advertising of pork products; reasoning that "though the Secretary ......
  • Livestock Marketing Ass'n v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., No. 02-2769.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • July 8, 2003
    ...Commission's activities are not protected by the government speech doctrine"); Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 785-89 (W.D.Mich.2002) (holding that mandatory assessments imposed to fund generic advertising of pork and pork products violate pork produ......
  • Big Time Worldwide Concert v. Marriott Intern., No. CIV.02-40289.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • January 2, 2003
    ...is guilty of unconscionable conduct directly related to the matter of litigation." Mich. Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 783-84 (W.D.Mich.2002) (citing Performance Unlimited v. Questar Publ'rs, Inc., 52 F.3d 1373, 1383 (6th Cir.1995); In re Prevot, 59 F.3d 55......
  • Pelts & Skins, L.L.C. v. Jenkins, No. CIV.A.02-CV-384.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • April 24, 2003
    ...determination has been undercut by the intervening logic of United Foods. See Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 789 (W.D.Mich. 2002) (citing the 2001 United Foods decision as the justification for the differing ultimate conclusions in the 1989 Frame an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Bonta, No. CIV. S-03-659 LKK/GGH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • July 24, 2003
    ...Commission's activities are not protected by the government speech doctrine"); Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 785-89 (W.D.Mich. 2002) (challenge of mandatory assessments for generic advertising of pork products; reasoning that "though the Secretary ......
  • Livestock Marketing Ass'n v. U.S. Dept. of Agric., No. 02-2769.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • July 8, 2003
    ...Commission's activities are not protected by the government speech doctrine"); Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 785-89 (W.D.Mich.2002) (holding that mandatory assessments imposed to fund generic advertising of pork and pork products violate pork produ......
  • Big Time Worldwide Concert v. Marriott Intern., No. CIV.02-40289.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • January 2, 2003
    ...is guilty of unconscionable conduct directly related to the matter of litigation." Mich. Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 783-84 (W.D.Mich.2002) (citing Performance Unlimited v. Questar Publ'rs, Inc., 52 F.3d 1373, 1383 (6th Cir.1995); In re Prevot, 59 F.3d 55......
  • Pelts & Skins, L.L.C. v. Jenkins, No. CIV.A.02-CV-384.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • April 24, 2003
    ...determination has been undercut by the intervening logic of United Foods. See Michigan Pork Producers v. Campaign for Family Farms, 229 F.Supp.2d 772, 789 (W.D.Mich. 2002) (citing the 2001 United Foods decision as the justification for the differing ultimate conclusions in the 1989 Frame an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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