Stockgrowers joins lawsuit to defend COOL
The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association joined with R-CALF USA and the Made in the USA Foundation to become co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit to challenge the World Trade Organization's ruling that found the United States' Country of Origin Labeling law to be in violation of international trade rules.
Shane Kolb, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers, said, "Stockgrowers does not accept that a world court can dictate what laws we pass in our own country and we feel that this lawsuit is the way for us to force USDA and our lawmakers to stand up to the WTO and defend our producers by defending COOL."
"Stockgrowers have been involved with COOL since before it was included in the 2000 farm bill because we believe that given the choice, customers will buy USA-raised products," said Stockgrowers President Shane Kolb, Meadow, S.D. "COOL has given us the ability to differentiate our product from that of another country and our customers look for that 'USA' label when they go to the grocery store."
The original complaint filed Sept. 1 in the federal district court in Denver, Colo., alleged the WTO ruling against COOL is null and void because Congress entered the WTO under the proviso that WTO rulings inconsistent with U.S. law shall have no effect. In addition, the suit alleged that the U.S. Agriculture Secretary and U.S. Trade Ambassador failed their respective responsibilities to uphold U.S. sovereignty by their failure to invoke Congress' proviso.
The original complaint also pointed out that it was a clear conflict of interest for the WTO to have appointed a Mexican national, who has represented Mexico in trade matters, to serve as a "judge" in the complaint that Mexico filed against the United States.
Along with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Cattle Producers of Washington, independent Mississippi cattle ranchers and R-CALF USA members Stanley, Chad and Tyler Scott, and the Organization for Competitive Markets also joined the suit.
The amended complaint adds a new cause of action: the failure of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to properly follow his agency's rulemaking procedures. The suit alleges the U.S. agriculture secretary improperly included a loophole in the final COOL rule that allows meat exclusively produced from animals exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States to nevertheless be labeled as if it were a product of mixed origin, such as a product of the United States, Canada and/or Mexico.
"COOL is the law of our land and was passed into law by the Congress of the United States of America," said Kolb. "If other countries want to market their product here then they need to comply with our laws and label their products accordingly. Stockgrowers will continue to fight for the right to label our products."
The U.S. government and other defendants in the suit now have 60-days within which to formally respond to the complaint.