The U.S. Cattlemen's Association this week announced the planned kick-off of a new fundraising campaign to secure funds for continued defense of the USDA's Country of Origin Labeling rule, involving participation from the National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumers Federation Association.
USCA, along with the partnering groups, have been engaged in a legal battle as defendant-intervenors for USDA over the COOL since August. They say the rule, which requires labeling on meat products that indicates where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered, provides needed information to the consumer.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit – including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian and Mexican livestock groups and others – claim instead that the rule hurts trade among North American countries and could foster consumer bias.
While the suit is outside of official trade disputes with the World Trade Organization, the interest groups still may have a hand in blocking the implementation of the rule.
"The defense of COOL is actually a two-pronged effort," says Jess Peterson, USCA executive vice president. "Canada has asked for a review of the Department of Agriculture's revised COOL regulations at the WTO by requesting a compliance panel. This means we are required to devote resources to a defense of COOL in that arena as well."
Peterson explains that the campaign will run throughout October as opponents of COOL move to appeal a court injunction that determined the COOL rule does not need to be temporarily suspended pending a WTO review.
The group ran a similar campaign this summer, "COOL in the Country," during which Peterson says significant funds were raised to support the U.S. COOL Defense Fund.
"During the summer tour, cattle producers asked how they could stay involved and support the COOL effort in the months moving forward," notes Peterson. "That's why we're introducing the 'Bully for COOL' campaign, which encourages cattle producers and livestock markets to help defend COOL."
Peterson adds that some of the donations received from ranchers and markets were generated from the sale of a yearling or feeder steer.
"We welcome that concept and will do everything possible to support these individual efforts," Peterson says.
For more on both sides of the story, visit the links below:
COOL Opponents Plan To Appeal Injunction Decision
Court Denies COOL Opponents' Request for Injunction
Court Grants COOL Supporters' Request to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
Canada Issues Formal COOL Challenge
COOL Advocates Ask to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
COOL Rule Opponents Seek Court Injunction