The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), as part of a coalition of meat and livestock organizations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, filed a motion with the U.S. District Court yesterday seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation of the recently amended U.S. mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulation pending resolution of the coalition lawsuit filed July 8.
The coalition lawsuit asks the court to strike down the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) May 23 revision to the COOL regulation while the preliminary injunction motion seeks to block implementation of the COOL regulation pending resolution of the lawsuit. Both the lawsuit and motion for a preliminary injunction were filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The coalition expects that the preliminary injunction motion, filed late Thursday, will be considered within weeks, although there is no specific timeline.
The CCA is confident that the motion will be successful as it more than meets all requirements set out under U.S. law. The preliminary injunction motion argues that if the May 23 rule were to be enforced as USDA plans to do in November, it would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. meat and livestock industry and is not in the public interest.
“The 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 m-COOL legislation to eliminate the discrimination on imported livestock and meat.”
The coalition gained another member this week as Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations joined the lawsuit. Mexico joins plaintiffs the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, CCA, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, and Southwest Meat Association.
The coalition lawsuit and motion for a preliminary injunction are the latest efforts to get the COOL issue resolved. 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.
The CCA's position remains that the only outcome that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the WTO ruling of July 2012, which found that COOL violates the U.S.’s WTO obligations, is to amend the COOL legislation to allow either a single mandatory label for all meat produced in the U.S. or to allow for voluntary labelling. The CCA has to date spent in excess of $2 million in legal and advocacy expenses to fight COOL.