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Agricultural News

Both Sides Anticpate Ruling from Federal Judge on Mandatory COOL Rule

Fri, 06 Sep 2013 02:48:05 CDT

Both Sides Anticpate Ruling from Federal Judge on Mandatory COOL Rule A hearing was held August 27 in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia to hear arguments on the motion filed by plaintiffs asking the court to temporarily enjoin the U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) rule published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA), together with National Farmers Union (NFU), the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), as defendant-intervenors, filed an opposition to the preliminary injunction motion and presented arguments opposing the preliminary injunction during the hearing.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Meat Institute, American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, Mexico's National Confederation of Livestock Groups, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association.

Officials associated with the Plantiffs have indicated to Steve Ditmer with the Agribusiness Freedom Foundation that they believe the oral arguments went well- and they believe that the decision will come from the federal judge on or before September 17.

USDA's revised regulations were prompted by a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that certain aspects of USDA's existing regulations violated the United States' trade obligations. The revised rules modify the 2009 rules by requiring labels to specify the basis of the country of origin information shown.
According to Jon Wooster, Presdident of the US Cattlemen's Association, "NCBA and the other plaintiffs argued during the August 27 hearing, among other things, that the new rules violate the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights, exceed USDA's authority granted under the statute and that the new rules are arbitrary and capricious.

"As defendant-intervenors, USCA, NFU, ASI and CFA argued that the new rules pass constitutional scrutiny and the rules further the very long-standing and judicially recognized governmental interest in assuring that consumers have access to accurate country of origin information and reduce consumer confusion.

"This is a critical juncture in the lawsuit. If the plaintiffs' motion is granted, USDA will be blocked from implementing its revised COOL regulations during the pendency of the litigation. The issuance of the preliminary injunction will have the unfortunate effect of placing the U.S. out of compliance with its trade obligations under the WTO by returning the market situation to the 2009 regulations which were already found to be inconsistent with U.S. obligations. Obviously, USCA and the other defendant intervenors are hopeful that the court will deny the preliminary injunction motion."



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