A state appeals court in Sacramento has ruled it is constitutional to force growers to pay assessments to fund generic promotional programs for agricultural products. Last week's ruling stemmed from a long-running case filed by a Chico kiwi grower, who claimed that the mandatory fees violated his rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association. Last summer, in a similar case involving Central Valley tree fruit growers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal and state marketing orders were constitutional and fair. Nevertheless, such marketing orders are under broad attack in California. And lawyer Brian Leighton of Clovis, who represented the dissident kiwi grower, said he plans to appeal this latest ruling to the state Supreme Court.

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