A US judge has ruled that a government-mandated fee paid by pig farmers to finance advertising for pork is “unconstitutional and rotten”.

In what is known as a ‘checkoff’, 45 cents (€0.46; £0.29) per $100 is levied on all sales of pigs, generating between $46 million and $48m a year. Around $30m of this is ploughed into marketing.

However, Judge Richard Enslen ruled that the scheme, set up in 1986, violated the First Amendment, as it forced farmers who did not support the advertising to pay for it. He ordered all collection of payments to end on November 24.

The ruling is the culmination of a legal battle between the Department of Agriculture and the Campaign for Family Farms. The latter, a body representing smaller farmers, argues that the checkoff chiefly benefits larger operators, and that the ad campaign for the National Pork Board (created by Campbell Mithun, Chicago) promoted processed products its members do not make.

The National Pork Producers Council (an organisation representing the bigger farming groups) has requested that the fees continue while Judge Enslen’s ruling is appealed.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff