May 29, 2024

Meat Groups Say COOL Rule Violates Free Speech

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and eight other organizations representing the meat and livestock industries in the United States, Canada and Mexico say the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) new country of origin labeling (COOL) rule violates the right to free speech. Earlier this month the groups filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to overturn the rule. Last week they filed a request for an injunction against enforcement of the rule while the suit is pending.

Meat LabelPlaintiffs include the American Association of Meat Processors, AMI, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, Southwest Meat Association and Mexico’s National Confederation of Livestock Organizations. The groups say the rule, which requires meat and poultry labels to state where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, violates the First Amendement by compelling speech.  “It is, however, a basic First Amendment principle that freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what they must say,” the request states.

“Congress mandated country-of-origin labeling for meat and poultry — not lifetime itinerary labeling,” Mark Dopp, AMI’s general counsel said in a statement about the action.  “Segregating and tracking animals according to the countries where production steps occurred and detailing that information on a label may be a bureaucrat’s paperwork fantasy, but the labels that result will serve only to confuse consumers, raise the prices they pay, and put some producers and meat and poultry companies out of business in the process.  Everyone loses under this rule.”


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