Coalition Appeals Denial of Injunction to Block M-COOL

US - The American Meat Institute is hoping for a final ruling in its challenge of the legality of amended Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling legislation before enforcement begins, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 27 September 2013
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On Tuesday a coalition of nine US, Canadian and Mexican meat and livestock organizations filed the opening brief in its appeal of a decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia to deny a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of amended US Mandatory Country of Origin labelling.

The lawsuit, filed in July, argues the changes violate the US Constitution and the US Agriculture Marketing Act and are arbitrary and capricious.

Mark Dopp, the senior vice president regulatory affairs and general council with the American Meat Institute, says time is of the essence.

Mark Dopp-American Meat Institute

Concurrent with our litigation the governments of Canada and Mexico have asked for a compliance panel before the WTO so what we have is, while we've challenged the rule in the US courts, you've got Canada and Mexico also raising the issues and contending to the WTO that once again this new rule, the 2013 rule, also does not bring the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations.

We think Canada and Mexico are likely to prevail.

If USDA begins to enforce the rule in late November, what we will see is Canadian and Mexican producers being required to make these changes, the packer-processors in the United States being required to make a lot of changes, expend the resources and money to implement those changes.

The retailers will be required to make substantial changes to accommodate this new production step labelling requirement only to find that what is likely to be the case is some time in 2014 WTO comes back and tells USDA this rule too is not acceptable.

Mr Dopp notes, because the public education and outreach period prior to enforcement ends 23 November, the hope is to have the case heard in early November.

He acknowledges how quickly the D.C. Circuit will rule is hard to say.

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