The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday vacated a March 28 ruling denying a request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the USDA's May 2013 final rule on country-of-origin labeling.
The Court will rehear the case en banc in May.
"We had strong concerns with the reasoning in the March 28 ruling," American Meat Institute General Counsel Mark Dopp said last week. "[The] court order to vacate the ruling signals that some members of the court may share those concerns."
Dopp said the group hopes the rehearing will lead to an injunction against the country of origin labeling rule, which he says is hurting livestock producers and meat companies while offering little benefit to consumers.
Supporters of the rule argue that consumers are looking at country of origin on labels to make their purchasing decisions.
In the complaint, however, AMI and its co-plaintiffs say the COOL final rule violates the United States Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest.
AMI also says the regulation exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate, because the statute does not permit the kind of "detailed and onerous labeling requirements" the final rule puts in place, and that the rule is "arbitrary and capricious, because it imposes vast burdens on the industry with little to no countervailing benefit."
The case is based on an earlier ruling by the World Trade Organization that found USDA's May 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.
For more on the federal COOL rule, visit the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Country of Origin Labeling webpage.
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