Meat and Poultry Industry News

Court of Appeals will review COOL En Banc

April 7, 2014
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Members of the meat industry expressed their approval over last week’s decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals that it would review en banc the case declaring USDA’s Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Rule unconstitutional. The previous decision by the court has been vacated.

This decision comes from a suggestion by the original panel of Appeals Court judges who said, in their decision, that “the full court hear this case en banc to resolve for the circuit whether, under Zauderer, government interests in addition to correction deception can sustain a commercial speech mandate that compels firms to disclose purely factual and non-controversial information.” The full court ordered that the case will be reheard. Oral arguments will be taken on May 19, 2014.

“This is a positive development. Constitutional cases are notoriously difficult, but we have a strong case and with this action the Appeals Court is signaling that it is taking our argument very seriously,” said NAMA CEO Barry Carpenter.

“We had strong concerns with the reasoning in the March 28 ruling,” said AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp in a statement. “Today’s court order to vacate the ruling signals that some members of the court may share those concerns. We remain hopeful that consideration of the case by the full Court will lead to an injunction against the protectionistic and costly country of origin labeling rule that is hurting livestock producers and meat companies while offering little benefit to consumers.

“In the complaint, AMI and our co-plaintiffs 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.  We 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,” Dopp added.

Sources: NAMA, AMI

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