Cattle Groups Sue USDA to Compel Country of Origin Labeling (COOL); Launching Newest Standoff in Longstanding COOL Dispute


Source: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

via JD Supra - July 13, 2017


Two groups representing U.S. cattle producers recently brought suit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on the agency’s March 2016 decision to revoke regulations requiring that beef and pork products be labeled with their country of origin.  According to the plaintiffs, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund and Cattle Producers of Washington, USDA’s decision to revoke country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations for beef and poultry products violates the Meat Inspection Act and the Tariff Act of 1930, and goes beyond what was required by a recent decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sparked the repeal.  The action is the latest twist in a longstanding conflict that embroils food regulations, free trade principles, and the First Amendment.


In 2009, USDA issued a final rule that required beef, pork and other commodities slaughtered in another country to bear country of origin labeling at the time of retail sale.  After the WTO ruled that the initial regulations violated WTO standards, USDA issued a revised rule in 2013, which would have required product labels to individually designate where the animal was “born,” “raised,” and “slaughtered,” as those terms were defined under the rule.  The labeling requirements were again challenged – both by Mexico and Canada at the WTO under free trade principles, and by the American Meat Institute and several other meat and livestock organizations on First Amendment grounds...


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