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Agriculture Today

Court denies preliminary injunction in COOL lawsuit

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September 18, 2013 | 4,101 views | Post a comment

Plaintiffs file appeal

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied plaintiffs’ request Sept. 11 for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, would have blocked the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from implementing and enforcing its revised Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations until a lawsuit filed July 8 is concluded. According to a Sept. 11 U.S. Cattlemen’s Association press release, the cattlemen’s group, along with three other groups, became intervenors in the lawsuit on Aug. 19 when the court entered an order granting their motion to intervene in full, permitting the groups to participate in the preliminary injunction hearing as well as the remainder of the litigation.

“If the injunction had been granted it would have ensured that the United States would be in violation of its trade obligations under the WTO [World Trade Organization] and also would have further delayed consumers having the type of information Congress has long intended them to have,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Jon Wooster. “The revised USDA regulations announced on May 23 of this year will certainly reduce consumer confusion and will allow cattle producers the ability to differentiate their product from foreign beef.”

The next day, Sept. 12, the plaintiffs in the COOL lawsuit filed a notice of appeal, according to a Sept. 12 cattlemen’s press release.

USDA’s final rule modified certain provisions in the Country of Origin Labeling regulations after a WTO Appellate Body affirmed an earlier WTO Dispute Panel decision finding aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations.

On July 8, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Association of Meat Processors, and six other North American organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to vacate and set aside USDA’s revised regulations. Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations also joined this group. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction.

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