The plaintiffs further assert that “the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) does not claim that the new ‘Born, Raised, and Slaughtered’ disclosures are related to ‘protecting consumers from commercial harms.’” Documents filed with the court this week claim that in AMS’s own words “the COOL program is neither a food safety or traceability program.”

The request also states that “The agency … appears ambivalent at best about the actual value of this information to consumers. But the First Amendment does not permit the government to resolve a tie in favor of compelling speech: ‘If the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last—not first—resort.’”

Because of these factors, the latest documents ask for an immediate injunction against implementation of the COOL Final Rule during the pendency of the litigation.

“The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), along with these groups and through other actions, will continue to turn up the heat on USDA to get the COOL dispute resolved,” said CCA President Martin Unrau. “While this lawsuit and preliminary injunction have the potential to bring down COOL, ultimately, we would be satisfied if the U.S. Congress would pass an amendment to the COOL legislation to eliminate the discrimination on imported livestock and meat.”

Last month, the Government of Canada released a list of U.S. commodities that could be targeted for retaliation in relation to the COOL dispute. The Government of Canada has said it could seek retaliatory compensation of approximately $1.1 billion following the completion of ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) proceedings, which will move forward independently of this U.S. based litigation.

“CCA is encouraging the Government of Canada to seek authorization to implement those tariffs by obtaining a WTO ruling that the U.S. has not complied with the WTO dispute panel decision that COOL causes discrimination against imported cattle in the U.S. marketplace,” Unrau said.

USDA proposed the new rule in March after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in response to a complaint by Canada and Mexico that the existing country-of-origin labeling requirements violated the U.S. WTO obligations. In what was termed a highly illogical move by plaintiffs in the lawsuit, USDA made COOL requirements even more complex and discriminatory against foreign meat and livestock, and Canada and Mexico have already made clear that the new rule does nothing to ease the concerns that prompted their original complaint.


Also of interest:

Final wording issued for COOL implementation

COOL itself is not ruled illegal by WTO but finds label wording to be…

What’s new in the proposed AMS rule on COOL?