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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (AP)

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center and two farmers are suing the Missouri Department of Agriculture to halt a referendum on higher fees for cattle farmers.

The Crisis Center will ask a judge on Feb. 16 to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the department from proceeding with preparations for the April referendum.

The referendum would ask farmers to approve doubling the per-animal checkoff fee from $1 to $2. The money would go to the Missouri Beef Industry Council, which spent more than a half million dollars on advertising and outreach in 2015.

The Crisis Center alleges the election rules were illegally crafted behind closed doors and require farmers to disclose confidential business information by asking them to register their sales numbers.

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