A group of Country of Origin Labeling supporters has organized several events this fall and winter aimed at raising funds to pay for the legal defense of the USDA's COOL rule, which requires labeling on meat products that indicates where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
The groups, including the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, National Farmers Union, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America, say the rule provides needed information to the consumer, though opponents of the rule say it hinders trade with neighboring countries and is an unnecessary rule that does not advance a government interest.
The respective sides have been engaged in a legal battle over COOL since this summer, which the COOL defenders say is costly enough to warrant a fundraising tour over the next two months to pay for the groups' legal fees.
Many of the tour stops will be centered on the northern plains – namely South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. USCA Executive Vice President Jess Peterson says the effort is an extension of a previous tour this summer.
"This past summer, hundreds of COOL supporters turned out to support COOL defense events held at livestock auction markets and with state and regional groups," he said, explaining that previous events have been held at restaurants and private farms as well.
"The support received permitted USCA and its allies to retain legal counsel and become engaged in the COOL lawsuit as defendant-intervenors," he said.
The case is expected to continue for the next several months as COOL opponents have appealed a court decision to deny a preliminary injunction against the rule.
While several of the upcoming tour stops will be in Montana, Peterson says interest is also growing outside the northern plains, and USCA has received online contributions and assistance from organizations in Virginia, Washington and Texas.
The event schedule is as follows:
Tues. Oct. 22: Lewistown Livestock Market, Lewistown, Mont.; Rollover sale (noon)
Tuesday, Oct. 22: Heavy Horse Bar; Roberts, Mont.; Burgers and COOL update (6 p.m.)
Wednesday, Oct. 23: Western Livestock, Great Falls, Mont.; Rollover sale (noon)
Friday, Oct. 25: Bear Paw Livestock, Chinook, Mont.; Rollover sale (noon)
Saturday, Nov. 9: Stockland Livestock Exchange, Davenport, Wash.
Saturday, Nov. 23: Ginger Hill Angus, Culpeper, Va.
For more on the COOL debate, follow the links below:
COOL Opponents Plan To Appeal Injunction Decision
Court Denies COOL Opponents' Request for Injunction
Court Grants COOL Supporters' Request to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
Canada Issues Formal COOL Challenge
COOL Advocates Ask to Intervene in Labeling Lawsuit
COOL Rule Opponents Seek Court Injunction
Meat Interests Take USDA To Court Over COOL Rule