Canada, U.S. Meat Industry Groups Launch Lawsuit Against COOL Rule
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Eight organizations representing the Canadian and U.S. meat industry have joined together to challenge the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) rule. The organizations have filed a legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to put-a-stop to the implementation of the controversial COOL rule.
They argue the final rule violates constitutional protection from compelled speech, noting that the government may compel speech only when there is a substantial government interest such as displaying public health information. The USDA admits that COOL labeling rules aren’t intended to provide a food safety or an added public health benefit. The meat industry groups say “consumer curiosity” is not a valid government interest.
“The U.S. Congress missed an opportunity to implement a legislative change to COOL in the farm bill deliberations,” said CPC’s Chair Jean-Guy Vincent. “Our American counterparts are clearly concerned that COOL will have a serious economic impact on their industry, leading to plant closures and lost jobs as well as reduced international cost competitiveness of the entire North American meat industry. “
The rule also violates COOL provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. They argue the rule provides inaccurate information to consumers and is harmful for the meat industry – picking winners and losers in the market with no indefinable benefit.
Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Timeline:
• 2002 – Mandatory country of origin wording was included in the U.S. Farm Bill
• 2003 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture created a rule requiring labeling that said where production points occurred in various countries i.e. born, raised and slaughtered
• 2008 – U.S. Congress introduced amendments in 2008 Farm Bill that aimed at addressing ways to make COOL less of an issue
• 2009 – COOl rule took effect
• 2009 – Canada and Mexico file a complaint against the U.S. to the WTO making the case that COOL violates trade commitments
• 2011 – WTO sides in favour of Canada and Mexico
• 2012 – WTO finds U.S. out of compliance
• 2012 – the WTO sets a compliance date (May 23, 2013)
• 2013 – the dispute is unresolved