For Immediate Release
September 25, 2008
CONTACT: Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department ofLivestock
Core-Mark, MDOL Agreement Puts Milk Labeling Litigation on Hold
The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) and Core-Mark International have agreed to temporarily suspend their dispute over the state's 12-day milk labeling requirements with hopes that pending litigation can be avoided.
Department officials met with Core-Mark managers and representatives from retail and convenience stores earlier this week in Helena. Parties from both sides are optimistic that the agreement will help pave the way for a permanent solution.
"It's an agreement everyone can live with," Christian Mackay, executive officer for the Montana Board of Livestock. "It will give us a chance to work together on a solution that keeps everyone out of the courtroom."
Under terms of the agreement, legal counsel for MDOL and Core-Mark will request that pending litigation be postponed in lieu of the temporary agreement and mediation. The agreement also stipulates that:
- Core-Mark and retailers can, per the Montana Administrative Procedures Act, utilize the petition process to reevaluate and potentially revise the state’s 12-day labeling requirement.
- The state's 12-day sell-by labeling requirement will remain in effect, and will be enforced;
- Dual-dating – i.e., labeling cartons of milk with both a 12-day date and a 21-day date – will be tolerated during the interim period covered by temporary agreement;
- Retailers selling dual-dated milk must display a poster, at least 8 by 10 inches in size, in a prominent location near milk to be sold, explaining the difference between the two dates;
- Retailers selling dual-dated milk are responsible for compliance with the state’s 12-day date;
- Core-Mark must write a letter to its retailers outlining their responsibilities to honor the state's 12-day requirement and advising them of potential penalties for noncompliance with the 12-day date.
The agreement will remain in effect until permanent resolution of the dispute is achieved.
“We’re pleased that the agreement gives everyone some time to develop an equitable solution,” said Mark Huelskamp, president of Core-Mark’s Spokane Division.
The dispute over milk labeling requirements began earlier this year when MDOL notified Inland Dairies, Core-Mark and milk retailers of its intent to rescind an exemption agreement previously granted to Inland Dairies and enforce the state’s existing 12-day labeling requirement. Core-Mark ultimately filed suit in federal district court, claiming that the 12-day labeling requirement unduly restricted interstate commerce.
Bill Hedstrom, chairman of the Board of Livestock, said the board and MDOL is “obligated to fulfill its duties as established by existing code and administrative rule.”