Country-of-Origin Labeling (R-CALF USA v. USDA)

Country-of-Origin Labeling (R-CALF USA v. USDA)

Public Justice served as lead counsel representing the nation’s largest organization of independent cattle producers, R-CALF USA, and the Cattle Producers of Washington, in a suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The suit alleged that USDA regulations enacted in 2016 that allow beef and pork to be classified as “domestic products” even when those meat products are slaughtered in other countries, confused consumers and harmed American farmers.

We argued that the USDA regulations violate the text of the Meat Inspection Act, which requires that beef raised and butchered in other countries and then imported into the U.S. should include labeling that indicates its country of origin. From 2009 to 2016, the USDA enforced rules following this requirement, but then reverted to previous regulations that classify imported beef and pork as domestic goods. This not only results in consumers receiving deceptive and confusing information, but directly harms domestic beef and pork producers who are now forced to compete with millions of pounds of imported meat deceptively labeled as American products.

In a defeat for independent cattle ranchers, the district court ruled in favor of USDA. Although the court found that cattle producers suffered financial harm as a result of the lack of country of origin labeling on imported beef, it nevertheless ruled against our clients because they were time-barred from prevailing in their case.

Trial Briefs


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