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World Trade Org Rules Against Country of Origin Labeling.

World Trade Organization Rules Against USA on MCOOL.

By Joe Dales,

The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States’ mandatory country of origin labeling law for beef and pork.

The WTO final ruling concludes the challenges from Canada and Mexico that began when the United States Department of Agriculture first implemented the law after the 2008 Farm Bill. The latest COOL changes still require labelling information on where an animal is born, raised and slaughtered and were implemented in 2013 after the WTO had previously found COOL  violated WTO trade laws.

The WTO compliance panel ruled that the amended COOL requirements result in Canadian and Mexican livestock getting less favorable treatment than U.S. livestock.

Some of the key statements from the WTO ruling include:

“In particular, the compliance panel concluded that the amended COOL measure increases the original COOL measure's detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market, because it necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin; entails a higher recordkeeping burden; and increases the original COOL measure's incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.”

“The detrimental impact caused by the amended COOL measure's labeling and recordkeeping rules could not be explained by the need to convey to consumers information regarding the countries where livestock were born, raised, and slaughtered.”

The United States now has 60 days to appeal if they decide to challenge the panel’s ruling.

The American Meat Institute and North American Meat Association have released a statement in which ask the U.S. Congress to amend the COOL statute so that it complies with international obligations and brings stability to the market. “Such a change would help restore strong relationships with some of our largest and most important trading partners,” they said.

 The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is concerned that the WTO ruling allows Canada and Mexico one step closer to bringing in retaliatory tariffs.

 “NCBA has maintained that there is no regulatory fix to bring the COOL rule into compliance with our WTO obligations or that will satisfy our top trading partners. We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue, avoiding retaliation against not only beef, but a host of U.S. products,” said NCBA president Bob McCan.

Canada and Mexico have both indicated that they will retaliate with tariffs on a wide variety of U.S. products that will result in lost in sales in the billions and put thousands of jobs at risk. 

Additional Stories on this topic:

National Pork Producers Council: NPPC Urges For Fix To COOL Law.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Ritz Calls For USA To Comply With WTO Decision and Respect Trade Obligations.


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