AMI seeks rehearing on COOL case

Plaintiffs challenge authority of AMS to regulate production practices in the COOL rule.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and eight co-plaintiffs have filed a petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc and a motion for miscellaneous relief with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as part of its appeal for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s May 2013 final rule on country-of-origin labeling (COOL).

The move follows the July 29 decision by the Appeals Court to reject the coalition’s appeal of the denial of its July 22, 2013 request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) May 2013 final rule on COOL.

The petition filed on Friday seeks a panel rehearing and rehearing en banc to contest the authority of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to regulate production practices in the COOL rule, specifically by prohibiting the commingling of meat products. This issue was not addressed by the en banc panel and the Petition argues that the earlier opinions of the District Court and three judge Appeals Court panel, which condone this aspect of the regulation, contradict established legal precedent.

“AMS’s rule, and the Panel’s Opinion, crams an elephant of industry-wide regulation into this tiniest of mouseholes.  Nothing in the text, structure, or history of the Marketing Act permits that result,” the rehearing petition states.

“AMI and our co-plaintiffs believe that because of the economic significance of the COOL statute, which is costing the industry more than half a billion dollars based on an agency overstepping its administrative role, it is of exceptional importance that the court rehear the appeal,” said Mark Dopp, AMI senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel. “The precedent set by the court in this case will have impact on other cases for years to come.”

Joining AMI in the lawsuit, filed in July 2013, are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association. 

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