Federal Court Allows Groups to Intervene in Support of COOL


 
Posted August 26, 2013
 
On August 20, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered an order granting a motion by several organizations to intervene in a lawsuit which seeks to stop the implementation of USDA’s country of origin labeling (COOL) final rule, according to an Agri-Pulse article, available here. 
The motion to intervene was granted to the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), National Farmers Union (NFU), the American Sheep Industry Association and Consumer Federation of America.  These groups support the implementation of the new COOL rule, which requires labels on certain cuts of meat to provide information on where it was born, raised, and slaughtered.  The final rule, effective on May 23, is available here.
According to a USCA press release, Jon Wooster, president of the organization, said that the court’s decision to permit the groups to intervene was “good news.”  Wooster continued, “USCA and its fellow intervenors are strong advocates to ensure that consumers in fact know where their beef is from.  The revised regulations … will surely reduce consumer confusion.  For producers, providing consumers with accurate information on where an animal has been born and raised gives cow-calf operators, backgrounders and feedlots a chance to differentiate their product as indeed born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States when the animal is processed in our country.”
The USCA has filed briefs with the court presenting its “opposition to the preliminary injunction motion filed by the plaintiffs.”  A hearing is set for August 27.    
The lawsuit was filed on July 8 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), American Meat Institute, North American Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, American Association of Meat Processors, Southwest Meat Association, and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations.  A copy of the complaint is available here.  On July 25, plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction; the brief in support is available here. 

In the injunction request, the groups argue “that the final COOL rule violates the Constitution, exceeds the US Department of Agriculture’s authority under the Agricultural Marketing Act,” and violates the Administrative Procedure Act, according to a MeatPoultry.com article.  According to the MeatPoultry.com article, available here, the plaintiffs believe they are “very likely to succeed on the merits and the Final Rule will likely be vacated” and without an injunction the final rule will “irreparably harm the meat industry.”     
Canada recently asked the World Trade Organization to review the COOL rules in an ongoing trade dispute with the US over the rules.  A recent post from this blog on the subject is available here.