A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court involving a mushroom checkoff program raises questions over what is legal and what is not in such marketing programs, and could affect all checkoff programs.

Producers of numerous commodities--from beef to cotton to soybeans--are involved in checkoff programs, so the Supreme Court's ruling should be watched with great interest said Kansas State University agricultural economist John Crespi.

In 1997, Crespi said, the court ruled checkoff marketing programs for California tree fruits were legal. This year, however, it ruled that a similar program for mushrooms was illegal because the mushroom industry was not as heavily regulated as the tree fruit industry.

"Because the justices do not provide specifics on the degree of regulation, I think the Supreme Court has opened the door to further litigation over what is and is not legal with regard to checkoff programs," he added.

Crespi, an agribusiness specialist with K-State Research and Extension, will discuss checkoff programs and the Supreme Court rulings during K-State's Risk and Profit 2001 Conference. The conference will be held at the Manhattan Holiday Inn on Aug. 16 and 17. The registration fee is $150 per person if paid by Aug. 13, or $175 if paid after that date. Group discounts are available.

Also highlighting the program will be Barry Flinchbaugh, K-State Extension State Leader in Agricultural Economics, who will discuss "Government Programs: A Dose of Truth Serum or Myth Debunking?"

Luther Tweeten, Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University, will address "Commodity Programs: Why is Bad Economics Such Good Policy?"

A "Grain and Livestock Outlook" will be presented by agricultural economists Bill Tierney and James Mintert.

Numerous breakout sessions will include "Crop Insurance: Are You Giving Your Premiums to Other States?"; "Investing for Fiscal Fitness"; "Cropland Rent: How Much Can You Afford?"; "How to be The Kind of Boss You'd Like to Work For"; "How Many County Extension Offices Do We Really Need?"; "Farm Size in Kansas: Is Bigger Better?"; "Pump It If You Can: Kansas Water Policy and Irrigation Technology"; "Has it Paid to Invest in New Generation Coops?"; "Heifer Replacements: When to Buy, What to Pay"; A Profitable Partnership: Fast Food and Kansas Wheat and Beef Marketing"; "Economics of Ethanol"; and "Got Cows? Trends in the Kansas Dairy Industry."

To register, or for more information, interested persons can contact Michelle Allison at 785-532-1504 or visit www.agecon.ksu.edu on the World Wide Web and click on "Risk and Profit Conference."

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