Cattle & Hog Producers Wait On COOL Decision

Jul 04, 2014

A WTO compliance panel has issued a confidential "interim" decision to parties in the case that Canada and Mexico brought against U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling rules. A finding that the labels constitute an unfair trade practice could lead to punitive tariffs on a multitude of American farm goods and other products exported to the two NAFTA partners. The contention of the US Government is that the labels tell U.S. consumers which countries their meat products come from and are legal under WTO rules.

The chair of the WTO panel has previously said a final report could be expected toward the end of July. The interim report gives the three parties one last chance to comment before the decision is made public.

USDA issued a final version of its new COOL rules in May 2013, just making a deadline set by the WTO for addressing the international body’s earlier finding that the rules unfairly discriminated against livestock raised in Canada and Mexico. Instead of doing away with the labeling requirement, USDA responded by issuing new rules that demand even more information be put on labels, including the locations where each production step occurred.

Farm Director Ron Hays discusses these latest developments on COOL with the lead lobbyist of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Colin Woodall. Woodall and the NCBA believe it is likely that the WTO will rule against the US in this latest challenge brought by two of our key trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

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