Board member, Northern Plains Resource Council; Montana rancher; prime signatory on the lawsuits to derail the national Beef CheckoffMontana rancher Jeanne Charter and her husband Steve came to fame in 1998 when they were charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with violating the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 by refusing to pay the $1-per-head assessment due on cattle they marketed. This mandatory Beef Checkoff assessment is used by the USDA to promote beef products sold by American companies.
Claiming his violation of the Checkoff requirement is a First Amendment issue, Steve Charter declared in 1999 that “the government seems to think our only legal right here is to shut up and pay the Checkoff!” The Charters’ attorney even claimed the case violated their civil rights.
Jeanne and Steve Charter claimed in a message to supporters that the Checkoff’s support of “the big packers” have “left us no choice but to resist in the only realistic way left open to us.” They claimed their failure to pay the required fee was an act of civil disobedience meant to protest “giant agri-business agendas, GATT, NAFTA and Fast-Track trade authority [that] all work directly against our own business interests and personal political beliefs.”
As of this writing, the Charters are still in court resisting their legal obligation to pay the Beef Checkoff fee