The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked USDA from implementing and enforcing its revised country- of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations until a final decision in the lawsuit has been reached, according to an article by Tri-State Livestock News, available here, reported the Ag and Food Law Blog today.

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Farmers Union (NFU), the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), and the Consumer Federation of America (CFU), intervened in the lawsuit on Aug. 19, when the court allowed them to intervene in full, “permitting the groups to participate in the preliminary injunction hearing as well as the remainder of the litigation.”

USCA President Jon Wooster commented: “We of course are pleased with the court’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction requested by the plaintiffs. If the injunction had been granted, it would have ensured that the United States would be in violation of its trade obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and also would have further delayed consumers having the type of information Congress has long intended them to have. The revised USDA regulations announced on May 23 of this year will certainly reduce consumer confusion and will allow cattle producers the ability to differentiate their product from foreign beef.”

The final rule modified certain provisions of the COOL regulations after the WTO affirmed an earlier decision “finding aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations.” USDA released the final rule, available here, on May 23. On July 8, a lawsuit was filed by several groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Pork Producers Council and other organizations from the United States, Canada, and Mexico asking the court to vacate and set aside the revised regulations. Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction and on July 26, USCA announced that it would “lead an intervention in the lawsuit.”

For more information on the lawsuit and the WTO dispute, recent posts from this blog are available here and here.