07/26/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 09/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Country-of-origin meat labelling opponents file injunction while lawsuit pending

CALGARY - An organization that represents Canadian beef farmers says it is seeking an injunction while a court in the U.S. hears its case against country-of-origin meat labelling.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association says it is part of a coalition that has asked the U.S. District Court in Washington to delay the policy to be implemented in November.

It would require labels on meat products sold in the United States to contain detailed information about where the products come from.

The lawsuit claims that the rule would violate the U.S. constitution and the U.S. Agriculture Marketing Act, and is arbitrary and capricious.

The coalition that has filed the injunction argues that the policy would cause "irreparable harm" to the U.S. meat and livestock industry and is not in the public interest.

The labelling system increases costs and makes it more difficult for U.S. companies to buy Canadian products.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit also include the American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, Canadian Pork Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association.

A World Trade Organization ruling on meat labelling found the American system discriminates against foreign livestock.

The U.S. announced earlier this year it wants to require even more detail on the origins of beef, pork and chicken sold in grocery stores.

Labels would include such information as "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States'' for American meat. Cuts of meat from other countries could carry labels such as "born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.''

Last month, the Canadian government released a list of potential U.S. agricultural products to which Canada could apply retaliatory tariffs. They include cattle, pigs, beef, pork, some fruits and vegetables and chocolate.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said that while Canadians could see higher prices as a result, the U.S. will lose jobs and significant revenue from the tariffs.