The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is allowing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) of the born, raised and slaughtered production step on meat to continue. COOL took effect last year, but the meat industry had tried to block the rule. Today, the court denied a preliminary injunction against enforcing COOL and found that the meatpacking industry’s efforts were “unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims.” R-CALF USA, Food & Water Watch, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and the Western Organization of Resource Councils – organizations which filed an amicus brief arguing that country of origin labeling helps consumers make informed decisions about the quality and potential safety of the meat they buy – praised the ruling. “The court recognized that COOL labels should be transparent and informative enough for consumers to make these choices,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “We believe the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute should honor this important court decision and cease their incessant attacks on our nation’s COOL law in their efforts to hide the true origins of meat from U.S. consumers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “COOL is needed so U.S. livestock producers can offer consumers a choice to buy USA beef that is produced by U.S. farmers and ranchers.” The American Meat Institute, which led the lawsuit, was disappointed by the ruling. “We disagree strongly with the court’s decision and believe that the rule will continue to harm livestock producers and the industry with little benefit to consumers,” said AMI interim president James Hodges. He added that the group is “evaluating our options moving forward.” Keeping COOL, however, could end up being very costly for the United States. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has already found the labeling system is a barrier to trade, a finding that could allow Canada and Mexico to impose more than $2 billion a year in retaliatory tariffs. Canada and Mexico are back at the WTO, asking for another review and permission to impose the tariffs. The governments involved will be notified confidentially of the WTO decision on June 20, and it will be made public a month later. Imposition of tariffs will likely be the game-changer because trade experts say it will no longer be just a meat issue, but will inflict pain on everything from Florida oranges to California wines. WTO, which rules on whether countries are in abiding by treaties on international trade, already found an earlier version of COOL was in violation. USDA’s amended the challenged version, but the new COOL is seen as more onerous than the first. Canada is confident the U.S. remains in violation and has said it will retaliate, but only once the entire WTO process with any appeals is played out.