WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 -- The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit today denied an appeal filed by the American Meat Institute and a group of trade associations representing livestock producers, feedlot operators, and meat packers seeking to block implementation of USDA’s country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rules.
Senior Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams affirmed a district court’s decision rejecting AMI’s request for an injunction against the rule, which requires stricter meat labeling than previous regulations.
In 2013, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) adopted a rule modifying its 2009 regulations implementing Congress’s requirements for COOL. The rule requires retailers of “muscle cuts” of meat, or covered meat other than ground meat, to list the countries of origin of the animals providing the product, as well as the location of different production steps, including where the animals were raised and slaughtered. The original rule only required a list of the animal’s country of origin.
After the 2009 rule’s adoption, Canada and Mexico filed a complaint with the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which found the rule to be in violation of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
USDA’s reformed COOL rule also eliminated the original rule’s allowance for commingling — a practice by which cuts from animals from different countries, but processed on the same day, could all bear identical labels.
AMI challenged the 2013 rule in district court as a violation of the COOL statute and the First Amendment. AMI moved for a preliminary injunction halting enforcement, and the district court denied the motion.
The DC Circuit Court agreed with the district court that AMI is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims.
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