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14 July 2013 - We Spend too Much Time in the Courtroom

The question is: “What do unwanted horses and C.O.O.L., Country of Origin Labeling, have in common?” My answer is that both issues are controversial, emotional and now, back in the courtroom, involved in lawsuits.

First, let’s look at C.O.O.L., Country of Origin Labeling. About a year after the U.S. put the rules in place, Mexico and Canada, our trading partners in N.A.F.T.A., filed complaints with the World Trade Organization saying the rules were unfair and hurting livestock producers in those two countries. The World Trade Organization agreed and told the United States to change the rules to comply with W.T.O requirements and eliminate unfair trade practices. So U.S.D.A. changed the C.O.O.L rules, Mexico and Canada said they were more restrictive than the first, so the next stop is the courtroom.

Eight meat and livestock groups, from both sides of the border, USA and Canada, filed a lawsuit claiming the rule revisions violate the U.S. Constitution! How? “. . . by compelling speech, in the form of the labels, that does not directly advance a government interest and added that the rules impose burdens on the industry with little or no benefit.” That will now lead to a long battle in the courtroom and cost millions in legal fees.

Then the unwanted horse situation. . .we have gone over this one many times. People who simply do not want horses, whose owners can no longer care for them, slaughtered and the meat exported to consumers in foreign countries who eat horsemeat.

But Congress last year mandated that the Department of Agriculture had to reopen those plants and provide funding for meat inspectors so the plants could process horses and export the meat. Well, of course, that immediately brought lawsuits, with the Humane Society of the United States leading the way, and what is their claim? They are suing under the National Environmental Protection Act for the failure of USDA to conduct the necessary environmental review before granting permission for the re-opening of the slaughter plants, just one more delaying tactic costing taxpayers a ton of money in legal fees.

My message to you who take issue with me on this subject is the same...when you tell me how you will care for the thousands of unwanted horses, at no cost to taxpayers, who are turned loose every year to die of disease, starvation and predators, then I will listen to you. So far, I have heard from no one with that plan.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.