July 10, 2013. 8 Meat Industry Groups, lead by the American Meat Institute, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 9, 2013 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to block implementation of a mandatory country-of- origin labeling (“COOL”) rule finalized by the USDA in May 2013. The complaint focuses on the fact that the USDA ruling compels speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest and as a result violates the United States Constitution.

Furthermore, the complaint contends that the 2013 USDA ruling exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate imposed by Congress because the statute does not permit the kind of detailed and onerous labeling requirements the final rule puts in place, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, because it imposes vast burdens on the industry with little to no countervailing benefit.

The industry groups contend that the labels that result will serve only to confuse consumers, raise the prices they pay, and put some producers and meat and poultry companies out of business in the process. The labeling rule as currently in place presents substantial difficulties for producers and processors. Continue to monitor the GLF Ag Law Blog for the most current updates and commentary on this pending litigation.

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