A request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the US Department of Agriculture’s May 2013 final rule on country-of-origin labeling has been denied by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“The court’s decision is disappointing,” responded American Meat Institute (AMI) interim president and CEO James H. Hodges. “We have maintained all along that the country of origin rule harms livestock producers and the industry and affords little benefit to consumers. This decision will perpetuate those harms. We will evaluate our options moving forward.”
Joining AMI in the lawsuit, filed in July 2013, are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association.
In the complaint, AMI and the meat and livestock organisations explained that the final rule violates the United States Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest. They also explained that the 2013 regulation exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate, 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.