Posted April 8, 2014
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently vacated the March 28 ruling denying the American Meat Institute’s attempt to block USDA’s final rule on country-of-origin labeling (COOL). The Court will rehear the case en banc on May 19, according to an article by Agri-Pulse available here. Farm Progress also reported on the story here.
In the order vacating the ruling, available here, the Court directs the parties to submit supplemental briefs on the following issue: “Whether, under the First Amendment, judicial review of mandatory disclosure of ‘purely factual and uncontroversial’ commercial information, compelled for reasons other than preventing deception, can properly proceed under Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 471 U.S. 626, 651 (1985), or whether such compelled disclosure is subject to review under Central Hudson Gas & Electric v. PSC of New York, 447 U.S. 56 (1980).
The original panel ruling concluded that the goals of the regulations are worthy of a “minimal” intrusion on the meat industry’s First Amendment rights. The opinion is available here.
Mark Dopp, AMI’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs, said that he hopes the rehearing will lead to an injunction against the COOL rule.
The lawsuit, American Meat Institute, et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, was filed on July 8, 2013, alleging that the COOL final rule violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, violates the Agricultural Marketing Act, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint is available here.
The COOL final rule, available here, became effective on May 23, 2013 and modified certain provisions of the COOL regulations after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations. The final rule requires labels on certain cuts of meat to provide information on where it was born, raised, and slaughtered.
For more information on COOL, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.