The US pork industry was dealt a blow this week. A federal court in Washington ordered payments made for the sale of ‘Pork. The Other White Meat’ trademarks (see box below) to end, because the value of these trademarks was not fully assessed.
Plaintiff The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed the lawsuit against defendant Sonny Perdue, secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
HSUS challenged Sonny Perdue’s decision to approve the National Pork Board’s purchase of ‘The Other White Meat’ trademarks, claiming millions of dollars were diverted to finance lobbying activities. This is illegal under the Pork Act.
NPPC to ‘review’ court decision
The court ruled that the decision to continue approval of payments was “arbitrary and capricious and unmoored from the facts”.
NPPC president Ken Maschhoff said the council was upset with the court’s ruling and hinted at challenging it.
“We are conducting a thorough review of the decision and evaluating our options,” he stressed.
“We are disappointed that the court partially denied the US Department of Agriculture’s motion to dismiss this frivolous lawsuit; one that was never based on a legitimate legal challenge to a federally approved transaction, but instead was brought by an anti-meat activist group intent on eliminating meat consumption and harming a vast US industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and feeds billions of people at home and abroad.”
Matthew Penzer, special counsel in The HSUS Animal Protection Litigation department, was an attorney on the case and said he hoped the court’s ruling would result in more scrutiny of government-funded meat promotion programmes.
“Today’s ruling halts an abusive misuse of millions of dollars of federal funds that was harmful to animals and responsible family farmers alike,” Penzer said.
“We hope this case signals a future of greater scrutiny and accountable operation of these massively funded government programs.”
Pork. The Other White Meat explained
Pork. The Other White Meat was an advertising slogan marketing pork as a healthy white meat alternative to poultry. It was paid for using checkoff dollars* – a tax collected from all pig pork product sales, with the money raised used to promote and do research for pork. The NPPC sold the trademarks to the National Pork Board in 2006 for US$34.6m. With interest added, the National Pork Board agreed to pay the NPPC US$3m annually for 20 years.