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Farmers Union Welcomes COOL Lawsuit Dismissal

10 February 2015

US - A US District Court has dismissed a lawsuit on Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL), filed by the multinational meatpacking industry and other meat and poultry industry organisations.

Nine plaintiffs including the North American Meat Institute argued the rule violated the First Amendment, but the courts disagreed.

However, the move has been welcomed by the US National Farmers Union, who said the law was popular with consumers.

NFU President Roger Johnson (pictured) said: “This is a clear and indisputable win for American consumers and producers, and it’s a huge relief to know that common-sense labelling laws, like COOL, can prevail in court despite the deep pockets of the multinationals.” 

The papers ending the long and costly lawsuit were filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, ending American Meat Institute (AMI) et al. v. US Department of Agriculture et al., originally filed in July, 2013.

Last week a Canadian delegation comprised of the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz and members of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council made a lobbying trip to Capital Hill on the heels of the release of a new study conducted by Auburn University Professor Robert Taylor, which teh NFU said show that allegations that COOL depressed prices of Canadian cattle were false.

Mr Johnson called the trip “their last act of desperation,” and pointed out that the Auburn University not only demonstrated that that fed cattle price basis actually declined after COOL went into effect, but also that COOL had no negative impact on imports of slaughter cattle and did not significantly affect imports of those of feeder cattle.”

Mr Johnson urged members of Congress to stand by the popular labelling law – supported by roughly 90 per cent of consumers – and urged the Canadians to allow the World Trade Organization to consider the new study and the total body of information and arrive at a decision on its own.

“If the US Courts are any indication of the trajectory of success of COOL, then American consumers are finally going to be permitted to know where their food comes from without intervention from our chief trade competitors and their multinational allies,” he said.

North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter said: "While we remain disappointed with the court's ruling on country-of-origin labelling (COOL), we agree with the World Trade Organization's assessment that the US rule is out of compliance with its trade obligations to Canada and Mexico.

"As Secretary Vilsack has said, a statutory fix is needed to bring the US into compliance to avoid retaliatory tariffs and we're committed to working with Congress to fix COOL once and for all."


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