In a unanimous decision Friday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit seeking to halt the U.S. country of origin labeling program.
The Appellate Court ruling affirms the September 11, 2013, decision by a lower court denying plaintiffs' motion for an injunction. As a result of Friday's decision, the revised COOL regulations will remain in place while the case is pending.
USCA, National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America are joint defendant-intervenors in the lawsuit originally filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen's Association and six other plaintiffs on July 8, 2013, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The plaintiffs have been seeking to prevent implementation of USDA's revised COOL regulations.
USCA President Jon Wooster, San Lucas, California said his group is pleased with, but not surprised by, the Appellate Court's decision.
"We recognized from the beginning that it was critical for the court to hear directly from the U.S. cattle industry and USCA is proud to provide that voice as a defendant-intervenor," he said.
Wooster said the ruling means that the plaintiffs in this case, who argue against COOL, now have the opportunity to ask that their appeal be heard by the full Court of Appeals.
"If plaintiffs do seek rehearing by the full court, USCA will continue to defend the revised regulations before the Court," Wooster said. "Defending COOL is USCA's highest priority and we are prepared for any eventuality."
The National Farmers Union also applauded the ruling.
"Yet again, claims that the revised COOL regulations are unconstitutional or inconsistent with the COOL statute have been rejected in federal court," said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president.
"Today's decision notes that COOL advances legitimate values, including consumer information and consumer choice. The Court of Appeals also explained that COOL labels can be seen as a sign that retailers 'take pride in identifying the source of their products.'
"NFU's family farmer- and rancher-members certainly take pride in the products they produce, and I am glad that consumers will be able to continue to identify their products at retail as a result of [Friday's] decision," Johnson said.