Meat and livestock industry groups which oppose the USDA's mandatory Country of Origin Labeling requirements said late last week they will appeal a court's Sept. 11 denial of an injunction that would have prevented the labeling rule from taking full effect.
The injunction is part of a lawsuit filed in July that claims the COOL rule – which requires processors to disclose on the label where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered – violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling speech that does not advance a government interest. Additionally, opposing groups say the rule be a burden to U.S. meat processors that must invest in new labeling equipment and manpower to manage additional recordkeeping responsibilities.
The groups, including industry representatives from Canada and Mexico, as well as the National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, add that the COOL rule will cause significant harm to meat markets and trade if allowed to operate fully during the time between Nov. 23, the deadline for full implementation, and when the case is settled. A decision is not expected until early next year, NPPC says.
Proponents of the rule, and intervenors for USDA in the case, say COOL offers more information to the consumer.
U.S. Cattlemen's Association President Jon Wooster said intervenors, including the National Farmers Union, said Friday they would defend the COOL policy in appeal proceedings.
"We will actively participate in the appeal process to defend the correctness of the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction motion. We strongly believe that the American consumer has a right to know where their meat is from and U.S. livestock producers have the right to differentiate their product in the marketplace as to its origin," Wooster said.
The case is based on an earlier ruling by the World Trade Organization that found USDA's COOL rule to be a technical barrier to trade. Canada and Mexico say the rule creates unfair bias in the U.S. against imported products.
The case is separate, however, from grievances filed by Canada and Mexico against the U.S. with the WTO.
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