Groups File First Amended COOL Complaint: New Plaintiffs Added and New Cause of Action Alleged
Denver, CO – On Tuesday R-CALF USA joined with the Made in the USA Foundation to file their first amended complaint in their legal challenge against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) ruling that found the United States’ country of origin labeling (COOL) law to be a violation of international trade rules.
New plaintiffs joined the lawsuit including the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Cattle Producers of Washington, independent Mississippi cattle ranchers and R-CALF USA members Stanley, Chad and Tyler Scott, and the Organization for Competitive Markets.
The original complaint filed Sept. 1, 2012 in the federal district court in Denver, Colorado, alleged the WTO ruling against COOL is null and void because Congress entered the WTO under the proviso that WTO rulings inconsistent with U.S. law shall have no effect. In addition, the suit alleged that the U.S. Agriculture Secretary and U.S. Trade Ambassador failed their respective responsibilities to uphold U.S. sovereignty by their failure to invoke Congress’ proviso.
The original complaint also pointed out that it was a clear conflict of interest for the WTO to have appointed a Mexican national, who has represented Mexico in trade matters, to serve as a “judge” in the complaint that Mexico filed against the United States.
The amended complaint adds a new cause of action: the failure of the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to properly follow his agency’s rulemaking procedures. The suit alleges the U.S. Agriculture Secretary improperly included a loophole in the final COOL rule that allows meat exclusively produced from animals exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States to nevertheless be labeled as if it were a product of mixed origin, such as a product of the United States, Canada and/or Mexico.
The suit now additionally requests the court to enjoin the U.S. Agriculture Secretary “from allowing the labeling of meat as a ‘Product of Canada, Mexico and the United States,’ or combination thereof, when such meat is derived exclusively from animals exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States.”
The suit also alleges that both the U.S. Agriculture Secretary and the U.S. Trade Ambassador are now attempting to water-down COOL to conform to the WTO ruling.
“All Plaintiffs are harmed by any weakening of the country of origin labeling law because their members seek to preserve marketplace competition for U.S. farmers and ranchers, which competition cannot occur if consumers cannot accurately distinguish meat derived from their U.S. cattle from meat derived from foreign cattle at retail stores,” the amended complaint states.
As a result of filing their first amended complaint, the 60-day clock has been reset and the U.S. government and other defendants now have 60-days from Tuesday within which to formally respond to the complaint.
R-CALF USA has collected over 12,000 signatures in a petition supporting country-of-origin labeling to be submitted to President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and U.S. Trade Ambassador Kirk. R-CALF USA will continue collecting signatures on the petitions and a petition on Facebook will continue through the end of the month. Anyone wishing to support the lawsuit can send donations in any amount to R-CALF USA, PO Box 30715 Billings, MT 59107 with COOL in the memo line.
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516. http://Nobull.MikeCallicrate.com/Subscribe/