USCA (March 31, 2014) - In a unanimous decision, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit seeking to halt the U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) program. The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) praised the Appellate Court ruling, which affirms the September 11, 2013 decision by a lower court denying plaintiffs' motion for an injunction. The Appellate Court ruling was handed down on Friday, March 28.
USCA, National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America are joint defendant-intervenors in the lawsuit originally filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen's Association and six other plaintiffs on July 8, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs have been seeking to prevent implementation of USDA's revised COOL regulations.
USCA President Jon Wooster, San Lucas, California said his group is pleased with, but not surprised by, the Appellate Court's decision. "From the very start of this legal challenge USCA has mustered a vigorous defense of COOL and we will continue to do so if needed. We recognized from the beginning that it was critical for the court to hear directly from the U.S. cattle industry and USCA is proud to provide that voice as a defendant-intervenor. The plaintiffs in this case, who seek to deny U.S. cattle producers the right to label their product and to deny consumers their right to enhanced labeling information, now have the opportunity to ask that their appeal be heard by the full Court of Appeals. If plaintiffs do seek rehearing by the full court, USCA will continue to defend the revised regulations before the Court. Defending COOL is USCA's highest priority and we are prepared for any eventuality."
USCA Director Emeritus Leo McDonnell, a Montana rancher, said support for COOL and support for the defendant-intervenors in the lawsuit has been remarkable. "U.S. ranchers will not be denied the right to differentiate their product for consumers as there can be nothing more basic to a competitive market system than the ability to differentiate one's product. This lawsuit has unified the cattle industry at a grassroots level where there is an undeniable groundswell of support for COOL. U.S. ranchers have supported the COOL Defense Fund financially and they engaged with lawmakers when an attack on COOL was attempted during the farm bill debate earlier this year. Time after time they've stepped to the plate to defend their right to label their product. I'm proud to be a U.S. rancher, I'm proud of my industry and I'm proud of the way ranchers have responded to protect and preserve COOL. It's inspiring to see this level of passion. We are winning this battle one step at a time. No doubt, there are some challenges yet to come and those may be both in the legal arena and at the Congressional level, but I am absolutely committed to a successful outcome and I know the majority of cattle producers are as well."