A district court of appeals on Tuesday ruled 9-2 to uphold an earlier three-judge panel decision to deny an appeal for an injunction to halt the enforcement of Country of Origin labeling.
The rule requires meat packages to list where the originating animal was born, raised and slaughtered. It is opposed by meat packers and some farm groups, which claim it violates free speech.
Since its passage, it has been ruled out of compliance by the World Trade Organization and was revised by the USDA last year. Separately, interest groups filed a suit against the USDA for violating the United States Constitution by compelling speech in the form of detailed labeling on meat products that they say do not directly advance a government interest.
The groups fear Canada and Mexico may instigate trade retaliation because of the rule, which they say creates an unfair consumer bias.
One farm group, however, says the rule is beneficial for farmers and small packers who want to differentiate their American products from products produced in other countries.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the latest ruling was "another victory in our long battle to uphold the enforcement of the COOL regulation" as modified by USDA.
"American consumers want to know basic information about where their meat comes from, and livestock producers across this great nation are very proud of what they produce and happy to let consumers know where their meat comes from," Johnson said in a statement.
"USDA's new COOL rules will significantly improve the information available to consumers by reducing confusion about the origins of meat products. It will also provide U.S. livestock producers the opportunity to differentiate their products."