USCA (July 26, 2013) - Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus of the United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) has announced that USCA will lead COOL supporters in intervention in the lawsuit filed on July 8 by plaintiffs seeking an injunction to vacate the Department of Agriculture's Final Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Rule and asking the court to halt the implementation and enforcement of the revised COOL regulations. Plaintiffs in the suit are the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), American Meat Institute (AMI), Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association (NAMA), American Association of Meat Processors and Southwest Meat Association. The suit also names Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Anne Alonzo, Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) as defendants.
McDonnell issued the following statement on behalf of the USCA board of directors:
"The USCA board has consulted with legal counsel in order to understand what the industry's best options are to assist with the defense of COOL in this case. Based on those discussions, the USCA board has unanimously chosen to intervene in this case and will lead a national effort to coordinate and network other key industry groups and associations into the process. This is an extremely important move and it must happen rapidly. It is our responsibility to intervene in this lawsuit to ensure that the court hears from the U.S. cattle industry and receives facts and arguments that will have a more meaningful impact coming from the industry itself."
"The eight plaintiffs in this case seek to remove from us our right to differentiate our product with a USA label. NCBA and the other plaintiffs argue that 'beef is beef, whether the cattle are raised in Montana, Manitoba or Mazatlan.' Many producer groups, such as USCA, and consumer groups believe that consumers are entitled to the type of information the revised USDA regulations provide. It is important that those who believe this have their voices heard in this litigation."
"This case involves various challenges, including a constitutionality question. At the District Court level, this case is likely to be more complicated than just a single round of briefings. With that in mind, USCA is preparing an intervention that will take us through a potential trial court phase and any hearings scheduled. Our legal counsel is drafting the initial court filings and fundraising has commenced to meet the costs. We have initiated contact with auction markets soliciting their help with fundraising and have received overwhelming support. Auction markets in the Dakotas and Montana are already organizing rollover calf sales and other efforts to assist with raising the funds needed for this action."
"The USCA board is determined to take every appropriate step to defend COOL. Producers can rest assured that we will be releasing more details as this process unfolds. I am grateful for the support this effort has already received and I look forward to building on that momentum as we move forward."