WASHINGTON – Organizations representing the North American meat industry attended a two-hour court hearing on Aug. 27 in Washington, DC seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the US Department of Agriculture from implementing its country-of-origin labeling regulations. Meanwhile, other groups are asking for permission to defend COOL. The judge is expected to issue a ruling within two weeks, according to the American Meat Institute.

"The judge was very engaged and asked a lot of question of attorneys for the plaintiffs, government and intervenor," said Janet Riley, senior vice president, Public Affairs for AMI.

In July, AMI and eight other groups representing the meat industry sued USDA in US District Court to overturn COOL. The groups argue that the final COOL rule violates the Constitution, exceeds USDA's authority under the Agricultural Marketing Act, and "runs afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.” The groups are requesting an injunction while the lawsuit is pending.

Billings, Mt.-based R-CALF USA, Food and Water Watch in Washington, DC, the South Dakota Stock Growers Association and Western Organization of Resource Council, also in Billings, recently petitioned the court to intervene in the case in defense of COOL. The request is pending.

“Our interest is in preserving COOL for generations to come,” said Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. “The COOL regulation that requires the meat labels to list each country where livestock was born, raised and harvested benefits US cattle and sheep producers who can differentiate and promote American born-and-raised livestock in an increasingly international supermarket meat case.”