U.S. Cattlemen's Association to lead intervention in COOL lawsuit

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 26, 2013 - United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) will lead Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)  supporters in intervening in the lawsuit filed on July 8 by groups wanting to halt the implementation of new COOL regulations.

Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of USCA, announced the decision to help defend COOL regulations against plaintiffs that include National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), American Meat Institute (AMI), Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association (NAMA), American Association of Meat Processors and Southwest Meat Association. 

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The suit names Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Anne Alonzo as defendants.  

“It is our responsibility to intervene in this lawsuit to ensure that the court hears from the U.S. cattle industry and receives facts and arguments that will have a more meaningful impact coming from the industry itself," said McDonnell, who explained that the USCA board unanimously chose to intervene in the case.

"The eight plaintiffs in this case seek to remove from us our right to differentiate our product with a USA label,” he said. “Many producer groups, such as USCA, and consumer groups believe that consumers are entitled to the type of information the revised USDA regulations provide. It is important that those who believe this have their voices heard in this litigation." 

McDonnell also said USCA legal counsel is drafting the initial court filings and the group already began fundraising to meet legal costs. He said auction markets in the Dakotas and Montana are organizing rollover calf sales and other efforts to assist with raising funds.

"The USCA board is determined to take every appropriate step to defend COOL,” he said.

On May 23, USDA issued a final rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the COOL program. The final rule modified labeling provisions for muscle cuts to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps occurred.

In June 2012, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) affirmed an earlier WTO Panel decision finding that the United States' COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George said the COOL regulations would result in increased discrimination against U.S. products. 

“Our largest trading partners have already said that these provisions will not bring the United States into compliance,” George said when the final rule published. “Moreover, this rule will place a greater record-keeping burden on producers, feeders and processors through the born, raised and harvested label.”

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