Organizations want to stop mandatory country of origin labeling

Nine Groups Seek Injunction Against COOL Rule

Nine organizations today filed a request in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to block mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), according to a news release from the American Meat Institute.

As part of a lawsuit filed July 8, seeking to block the COOL rule finalized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in May 2013, nine organizations representing the United States, Canadian and Mexican meat and livestock industries asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant a preliminary injunction.

In the request filed today, the groups said that they had a high likelihood of success in their case and that enforcement of the rule would cause irreparable harm to the industry and have severe economic impacts that are not in the public interest.

Plaintiffs include the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations, which joined the lawsuit this week.


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The plaintiffs assert that they “are very likely to succeed on the merits and the Final Rule will likely be vacated. But if it is not enjoined in the meantime, the Final Rule will irreparably harm meat-industry participants. Plaintiffs are trade organizations that represent regulated entities facing immediate and substantial burdens and costs under the Final Rule.”

The injunction request follows the complaint and 1) outlines the burden to the plaintiffs’ First Amendment speech rights; 2) explains that the rule exceeds the authority granted to USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill; and 3) demonstrates that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, offering little benefit to consumers while fundamentally altering the meat and poultry industry.

USDA proposed the new rule in March after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in response to a complaint by Canada and Mexico that the existing country-of-origin labeling requirements violated the United States’ WTO obligations. In a highly illogical move, USDA made COOL requirements even more complex and discriminatory against foreign meat and livestock, and Canada and Mexico have already made clear that the new rule does nothing to ease the concerns that prompted their original complaint.

The lawsuit was filed July 8, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block implementation of the COOL rule. The original complaint is available here.

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