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Canada Presents a Strong Case at WTO

WTO Deliberates on Meat Labeling Dispute, While Canada Sits in Limbo

By Amanda Brodhagen,

After two days, the public hearing on the U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling, or COOL, has come to an end. The hearing took place at the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Canada and Mexico took the U.S. to court over its controversial meat labeling laws. This will be the fourth time that Canada has challenged the U.S. at the WTO over its meat labeling rules.

Now it’s time to wait.

Trade disputes often drag out for long periods of time. While not unusual, the WTO’s deliberation process could take months. A ruling is expected sometime in June.

The legislation requires meat products to be labeled to identify where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

First introduced in the 2002 farm bill, COOL was amended in 2008, and rolled out in 2009.  The legislation was tightened in 2013, following an order from WTO which asked the U.S. to make the rules compliant.

In a joint press release, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) provided on update on the COOL dispute.

“The case was presented after many months of preparation and now the panel needs time to consider the information,” Gary Story, Public Relations Manager for the CPC said in an emailed statement.

CPC Chair Jean Guy Vincent said Canada performed “very well,” arguing that the U.S. labeling rules discriminate against out of country livestock, violating trade commitments. “It has been very frustrating trying to eliminate WTO illegalities in COOL,” he said.

In an email, Gina Teel Communications Manager for CCA said it “strongly” believes that the WTO will rule in favour of Canada.

Both livestock lobby organizations praise the federal government for being “very helpful” in advocating Canada’s position.

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