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COOL Rule Opponents Seek Court Injunction

Groups say the COOL rule will cause "irreparable damage" to the meat trade if not put on hold pending a lawsuit

Published on: Jul 29, 2013

As part of a lawsuit filed July 8 seeking to block implementation of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling rule finalized by the USDA in May, nine organizations representing the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican meat and livestock industries asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to grant a preliminary injunction.

In the request filed Friday, 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.

In its original claim, the group alleges that the final rule violates the United States Constitution by compelling speech in the form of detailed labeling on meat products that "do not directly advance a government interest."

Groups say the COOL rule will cause "irreparable damage" to the meat trade if not put on hold pending a lawsuit
Groups say the COOL rule will cause "irreparable damage" to the meat trade if not put on hold pending a lawsuit

The suit also claims that the latest revision of COOL exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate granted in the 2008 Farm Bill, because the statute does not permit the kind of labeling requirements the final rule puts in place.

It also suggests that the rule is arbitrary, because it imposes burdens on the industry with little to no benefit, according to the complaint.

In filing for the injunction, the plaintiffs stand by previous claims and say they believe the final rule will be vacated.

The group said it represents regulated entities that face immediate and substantial burdens and costs under the final COOL rule, and as such the rule should be postponed, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

USDA revised the rule after a complaint to the World Trade Organization from Canada and Mexico asserted that the existing country-of-origin labeling requirements violated WTO policies.

The groups said, however, that the revision was "highly illogical" and the USDA made the rules "even more complex and discriminatory against foreign meat and livestock."

Canada and Mexico have each issued plans to retaliate if COOL rules are not deemed acceptable by WTO standards.

Plaintiffs in the case 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.