National Farmers Organization’s Board of Directors commend the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision to appeal the WTO ruling about country of origin labeling, that found COOL violated technical barriers to trade.
March 23 was the last day the U.S. could challenge the ruling, which was handed down May 20 of last year. Although WTO representatives agreed that country of origin labeling is allowable in principle, they ruled the U.S., through its labeling requirements, provided less favorable treatment to Canada’s and Mexico's livestock and meat products.
“Market integrity and transparency are at stake here, not to mention consumers’ right to know where their food comes from,” said National Farmers Ag Policy Analyst Gene Paul. “We agree with U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who see the U.S. appeal as an effort to ensure the law is implemented as intended.”
The COOL rule makes it mandatory for grocers to label where their beef, pork, chicken and ground beef originate. Animals born, raised, and processed in the U.S. can only be labeled as U.S. origin. Meat from other countries must be labeled a mixed origin product.
The mandatory version of COOL went into effect in March 2009. Six months later, Canada filed a complaint with WTO, and Mexico quickly followed suit. The two countries’ trade officials said cattle and hog exports dropped sharply, and argued that U.S. mandatory COOL amounted to an illegal, non-tariff trade barrier.
National Farmers is a price negotiation and risk management organization for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.