Not only have lawmakers continued to address the concept of mandating country of origin labeling on meat products this week, the debate continues in a circuit court of appeals for the District of Columbia.
The court heard arguments in the ongoing COOL case against the USDA Thursday. It questions whether the U.S. District Court's denial of the preliminary injunction on the implementation of the May 2013 revised regulations on COOL on meat products should be upheld.
The May regulations require meat sold in the U.S. to carry a label that says where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
National Farmers Union, an intervener supporting the COOL rule, argue that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new COOL rules bring the United States into compliance with the World Trade Organization, and should be retained.
"This case is about the ability of consumers to make informed decisions on their purchases of meat products. At a time when consumers are asking for more information about the origins and content of their food, it is important that the court uphold its original decision," commented NFU President Roger Johnson. "The USDA revised regulations provide consumers more information and should reduce confusion for consumers at retail."
Groups opposing the COOL rule argue that COOL creates unnecessary and costly burdens for producers and packers.
NFU, however, says it’s a positive move for the beef industry. Other supporters argue it will add value to U.S. beef products.
"NFU and our allies strongly supported the government position that a preliminary injunction wasn't appropriate," Johnson continued. "We are hopeful that the D.C. Circuit's decision will uphold the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction."
It has been widely rumored this week that COOL is near the top of the list of issues to resolve for farm bill negotiators, though it isn't clear if agreement has been reached.
When the court date was announced in November, however, Jon Wooster, president of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association – another intervener in the lawsuit supporting USDA – said farm bill conferees should avoid repealing the COOL rule.
"We believe the legal process should be allowed to play out without any interference from Congress," Wooster said in a press statement.Catch up on more COOL news:
COOL Opponents Plan To Appeal Injunction Decision
Court Denies COOL Opponents' Request for Injunction
Court Grants COOL Supporters' Request to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
Canada Issues Formal COOL Challenge
COOL Advocates Ask to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
COOL Rule Opponents Seek Court Injunction
Meat Interests Take USDA To Court Over COOL Rule
Canada Poised To Retaliate on COOL Ruling
USDA Retains Country of Origin Labeling Requirement