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

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

We were 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, alleging 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.

After filing our complaint in June 2017, and a motion for summary judgment in November of that year, we were defeated by the USDA’s cross motion for summary judgment in June 2018, and the case was dismissed. The court found that our clients had demonstrated that they have suffered an injury due to the USDA’s actions—reduced prices for their beef products—but ruled against us due to an expired statute of limitations, and because the challenged regulations were not inconsistent with Congressional intent.

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