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Copyright © 2014
Angus Journal

Challenge to COOL Regulation Terminated in US District Court for the District of Columbia

USCA (February 13, 2015)-The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) has communicated to its members that that the legal case brought against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations was dismissed by stipulation of the parties.


American Meat Institute (AMI) et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture was filed in July, 2013 by the North American Meat Institute, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, and six other plaintiffs against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) challenging the legality of the Department's COOL regulations. USCA, along with other groups, entered an appearance as a defendant-intervenor in the case and had provided briefs at both the district court and Court of Appeals in opposition to plaintiffs efforts to obtain a preliminary injunction against the regulations. The seven plaintiffs had alleged various bases for the Court granting them an injunction including an argument that the regulations violated their First Amendment right of free speech by requiring country-of-origin information to be provided. The request for preliminary injunction was denied by the District Court and was then appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was rejected by that court's panel that heard the appeal and then by the full court sitting en banc.


USCA president Danni Beer commented, "USCA has long believed that COOL was both consistent with US legal obligations and consistent with our rights as a member of the WTO. The termination of the court litigation removes, at least for now, any challenge to the legality of the USDA regulations under US law. We know that consumers want more information on where their food comes from. US cattle producers are proud of our product and believe an informed consumer will prefer US produced beef."

"However, the WTO challenge by Canada and Mexico to COOL is not over. Both countries have challenged whether the modified regulation of USDA brings the US into compliance with its WTO obligations. An adverse panel decision came out late last year and appeals by the US, Canada and Mexico are presently before the WTO's Appellate Body with a hearing in Geneva scheduled for February 16-17. We are encouraged by the recent study published by Dr. Robert Taylor, Auburn University, which examines the issues of whether foreign producers are discriminated against by the COOL regulation. The report critiques prior studies and highlights data not previously utilized in studies done on COOL. The study's conclusions are that the opponent's claims that COOL has brought extreme economic harm to Canada and Mexico are incorrect."

Beer concluded, "Consumers and producers are entitled to accurate information on where beef products are produced (born, raised and slaughtered). The WTO has recognized the right of members to provide better information to their consumers. The WTO Appeal process is continuing. It is important that members of Congress with an interest in the issue, review Dr. Taylor's study and understand the difference between the rhetoric being used by opponents of COOL and the commercial reality that our Canadian and Mexican competitors have actually faced. Better information to consumers is what consumers want. The current COOL regulations provide that information without harming our trading partners. Staying the course is what Congress and the administration should be doing."

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