Country-of-Origin Labeling lawsuit dismissed

Country-of-Origin Labeling lawsuit dismissed

COOL lawsuit against USDA dismissed; World Trade Organization tussle continues

The U.S. District court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by meat interests against USDA regarding Country-of-Origin Labeling.

The papers ending the suit were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ending American Meat Institute et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture et al., originally filed in July, 2013.

COOL lawsuit against USDA dismissed; World Trade Organization tussle continues

After several back-and-forth jabs in the courtroom, including a requested injunction against the rule, a court of appeals ultimately denied rehearing of the suit in October, 2014. The meat groups had said COOL violates the constitution by mandating speech without a public interest. They also argued the policy creates unnecessary and costly burdens for producers and packers.

Proponents of COOL, however, say it provides additional information with which consumers may use to inform buying decisions.

"This is a clear and indisputable win for American consumers and producers, and it's a huge relief to know that common-sense labeling laws, like COOL, can prevail in court despite the deep pockets of the multinationals," National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said. NFU and others were intervenors in the case.

Related: Consumers aren't willing to pay more for country-of-origin label

The World Trade Organization dispute on the rule continues. Last week, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz, along with members of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council visited Capitol Hill to discuss the rule.

Canada is in opposition to the rule, arguing that it creates a technical barrier to trade that is in violation of WTO rules.

NFU's Johnson disputed Canadian concerns on the rule, pointing to a study released in January that suggested COOL didn't contribute to lower live cattle imports to U.S. from Canada and Mexico.

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