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Producer Groups Lose Latest Appeal over COOL in US

31 March 2014

NORTH AMERICA - The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has turned down an appeal that would have placed a block on new Country of Origin Labelling rules in the US.

The court denied plaintiffs’ appeal of a denial of their request for a preliminary injunction.

The preliminary injunction would prevent revised Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations from remaining in effect while the plaintiffs’ lawsuit challenging the COOL regulations proceeds.

The latest court ruling affirms a decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia made in September last year that also denied the request for a preliminary injunction.

As a result, the revised COOL regulations will remain in place while the case is pending.

“I am extremely pleased with today’s decision,” said Roger Johnson, US National Farmers Union (NFU) president.

“Yet again, claims that the revised COOL regulations are unconstitutional or inconsistent with the COOL statute have been rejected in federal court.”

“Today’s decision notes that COOL advances legitimate values, including consumer information and consumer choice.

“The Court of Appeals also explained that COOL labels can be seen as a sign that retailers ‘take pride in identifying the source of their products.’

“NFU’s family farmer- and rancher-members certainly take pride in the products they produce, and I am glad that consumers will be able to continue to identify their products at retail as a result of today’s decision.”

The court decision is the latest twist in the court saga that has been moved by a group of agriculture and meat industry organisations in the US to block the current COOL rules.

The case was filed on 8 July last year, by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, North American Meat Association, American Association of Meat Processors, National Pork Producers Council, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations.

NFU, together with the United States Cattlemen’s Association, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America, intervened to defend the COOL regulations from challenge, and they actively participated in a briefing at the District Court and the Court of Appeals, as well as the preliminary injunction hearing at the District Court.

The Canadian Pork Council’s Chairman Jean-Guy Vincent said: “The Canadian Pork Council participated in the U.S. meat industry legal challenge as co-plaintiffs in the hope that a more expeditious and effective resolution of the matter could be achieved. It is essential that there be a legislated change for the U.S. to come into compliance with its WTO obligations on COOL.

“We are exploring several options to secure this objective. The court challenge is a separate and distinct process than WTO dispute settlement and our primary focus is prevailing at the WTO compliance panel.

“Failure to accept a result favourable to Canada and to make WTO consistent amendments to the COOL measure could lead to retaliatory tariffs against US exports.”

ThePigSite News Desk

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