Filed Under: Meat

The Charters Are No Martyrs

Presenting themselves as downtrodden ranchers facing off against an uncaring government, Steve and Jeanne Charter appeared in court last week, arguing that the Beef Checkoff program, which raises money for beef promotion and research, violates their constitutional rights. The Charters, who refused to pay the legally mandated fee on 250 cattle they sold in 1997 and 1998, are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But their fight against the fee, which is crucial for promoting demand for beef products and expanding the industry, is no David and Goliath struggle. The Charters are prominent members of the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC), an activist group funded by the Tides Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, among others.

NPRC calls the Charters “courageous heroes” defending a Western way of life. But NPRC, far from being a true grassroots enterprise, is mostly an East Coast propaganda machine, with the desire to do away with the modern beef industry, which NPRC describes as “corporate” and “globalized.” No wonder NPRC has accepted more than $150,000 in grants since 2000 specifically targeted “to organize citizens and promote public policy that… challenges corporate control of the food industry.” [For much more on NPRC and the Charters, visit]

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