Ranchers in Spokane, Washington filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday seeking a reinstatement of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) on meat. The suit heralds the sentiment of many California ranchers and contends that the labeling is essential for transparency and to allow Americans to support smaller, family-owned ranches.
The lawsuit was brought about by the Cattle Producers of Washington, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, and United Stockgrowers of America. The group is requesting the court revoke the USDA’s current regulations that allow corporations to import beef into the United States and label it “Product of USA.”
The USDA mandated the use of COOL on meat from 2009 until last year. In March 2016, the USDA decided to repeal the regulation. Since the requirement was revoked, it has allowed multinational corporations to import beef from foreign countries and present it as a U.S product. Ranchers are claiming the change violated the nation’s Meat Inspection Act, which requires slaughtered meat from other countries to be clearly labeled.
Each year there are over 800 million pounds of foreign beef imported into the U.S. Since the revocation of COOL, smaller domestic farmers and ranchers have typically been receiving lower prices for their meat.