COOL opponents lose bid in court for injunction

Groups opposed to country-of-origin labelling in the U.S. lose their appeal seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule

The fight against the U.S. country-of-origin labelling law has been set back after an appeal seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule was lost.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the case in a 9-2 decision on the basis it “was unlikely to succeed.” 


The 70 page decision was released July 29. 


“The preliminary injunction has been denied and it is status quo,” said John Masswohl of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. 


The American Meat Institute was the lead plaintiff working with other industry organizations. 


The group hoped to get an injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture rule released last year. It felt a World Trade Organization challenge would take too long and wanted action sooner.


“If a quick preliminary injunction was granted to prevent the new rule from coming into effect, it was an option worth pursuing,” said Masswohl. 


The full case for an injunction has not been scheduled in court, he said.


Plaintiffs must now decide whether to continue. 


Legal counsel for the AMI and other industry organizations will review the decision more thoroughly and recommend the next action. 


The case is against the COOL law that was implemented in May 2013. It followed a WTO ruling that the USDA rule discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports. The original rule allowed beef and pork to be labelled Product of the United States and Canada. 


In response to the WTO ruling, the USDA produced a more detailed rule that said all retail packages must include information on where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. 


A WTO decision on the appeal against the second rule has been reached but not released. Governments have received confidential copies but it must be translated into English, French and Spanish. 


The next step requires the decision to be tabled at a meeting of the dispute settlement body, which meets once a month. 


The next three scheduled meetings for the dispute panel are Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 23.


Masswohl said an August release is unlikely. 


“My guess would be Sept. 26,” he said. 


The most recent court documents may be viewed at http://1.usa.gov/1xyFe8F.

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