Legal challenge to US COOL amendments

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Canada and US meat industries filing lawsuit over COOL
Canada and US meat industries filing lawsuit over COOL

Related tags American meat institute International trade Us Beef Livestock Pork Poultry

Canadian and US meat processors and producers have filed a lawsuit with a US court in a bid to block the implementation of amendments to the US country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rule.  

The American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Pork Council (CPC), Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, and Southwest Meat Association filed the legal challenge with the District Court for the District of Columbia this week.

The lawsuit claims that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s 23 May amendments to COOL violate the US Constitution and US Agriculutre Marketing Act. It calls for legislative change to bring the US into compliance with its international trade obligations.

CPC chair Jean-Guy Vincent said: “The US Congress missed an opportunity to implement a legislative change to COOL in the farm bill deliberations.

“CPC has partnered with its US counterparts in this legal challenge to quickly resolve this dispute, as legislative options for the US to come into compliance with its WTO obligations become fewer.”

Damaging industry

The groups have claimed that COOL is having a negative effect on both the US and Canadian meat industries, which rely on a close trading relationship. Analysis carried out by the CPC suggested that since the implementation of mandatory COOL in 2008, Canadian pig exports to the US have fallen by 41%, while beef cattle exports have fallen by 46%.

CCA president Martin Unrau warned that the “increase in discrimination” against imported cattle inherent in the 23 May amendments to COOL would “irreparably injure”​ Canada’s livestock producers and US processors.

“The CCA is forced to take this step with its allies as the USDA chooses to continue down a path of unfair trade discrimination that undermines the job security of American workers and harms the US meat processing industry in addition to placing an unfair burden on Canadian cattle producers,”​ he said.

Canada’s government has launched World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement proceedings over the US COOL laws, and recently published a list of US commodities that could be targeted for retaliation in relation to the dispute. Officials claim that Canada could seek retaliatory compensation totalling $1.1bn.

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