Washington, July 29, 2014 – The American Meat Institute (AMI) said it is evaluating its options after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied its request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of USDA’s final rule on country-of-origin labeling.

“The court’s decision today is disappointing,” AMI Interim President and CEO James Hodges said in a news release. “We have maintained all along that the country of origin rule harms livestock producers and the industry and affords little benefit to consumers. This decision will perpetuate those harms.”

Joining AMI in the lawsuit, filed in July 2013, are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association. 

In the complaint, the organizations said the rule violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest. They also argued that the regulation exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate and that it “imposes vast burdens on the industry with little to no countervailing benefit.”

The rule requires meat producers to label products with information on where the animal that provided the meat was born, raised and slaughtered.

Writing for a divided panel of 11 judges, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Williams said the government’s interest in informing consumers overcomes any First Amendment claims the meat industry had made.

A three-judge panel, which upheld a lower court ruling reaching the same conclusion, had asked for a full-court review of the First Amendment claims.

The regulations took full effect in November.


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