The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found last month that the generic advertising funded by the program violates the free speech rights of farmers forced to pay for the ads.
The unanimous decision overturns a lower court ruling that dairy farmers Joseph and Brenda Cochran had to contribute to the National Dairy Promotion Board campaign even though the couple felt the ads did little to support sustainable agriculture products, such as milk from cows that are not injected with hormones.
"The court made clear that just because an industry is regulated, and even if it's heavily regulated, that doesn't mean the members of that industry lose their First Amendment rights," said the Cochrans' attorney, Steve Simpson, of the Washington, D.C.-based group Institute for Justice.
"Got Milk?" is the latest of clever industry promotions whose funding has been found in violation of the First Amendment.
A federal appeals court ruled in July that ranchers could not be forced to pay a $1-per-head fee on cattle to support the marketing campaign that spawned the slogan "Beef: It's what's for dinner." And an appeals court struck down a similar fee in October that had supported the ads calling pork "the other white meat."