The lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) against the sale of the popular “Pork. The Other White Meat” slogan and Pork logo is anything but simple.
The case dates back to 2012 when HSUS filed the lawsuit against the USDA alleging the 2006 sale of the slogan and the Pork trademark between the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and National Pork Board using Pork Checkoff funds was an unlawful act. Originally dismissed in 2013, a federal appeals court reversed this decision and returned the case to the lower court late last year.
USDA is currently investigating the transaction and has requested a stay of proceedings pending this investigation.
That hasn’t stopped rumors suggesting a settlement between HSUS and USDA is in the works.
The industry’s outrage grew to a fever pitch after USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack told the House Ag Committee in testimony available here “the industry” pushed for a settlement.
Vilsack later clarified his original testimony when speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington a few weeks later, saying he may have “mischaracterized the conversations.”
Nicole Navas, U.S. Department of Justice public affairs specialist reiterated Vilsack’s clarification and told PORK Network that “there are no ongoing settlement discussions with any party during USDA’s independent review.”
However, as Michael Formica, assistant vice president, domestic policy and counsel with the NPPC, told AgriTalk earlier this week, Vilsack’s top aid continues to say a settlement initiated by the pork industry is underway.
Last week, NPPC CEO Neil Dirks and NPPC President John Weber met with USDA’s Office of General Counsel, to demand the USDA defend the sale of the slogan.
“We’re concerned that even though USDA has a very strong legal position, it isn’t defending a contract it approved,” said Weber in a news release. “We’re concerned that it already has thrown in the towel.”
Click the video above for more about the NPPC’s demands to USDA in a recent AgDay TV update.
The industry anxiously awaits the results of UDSA’s investigation and future updates of the lawsuit.