Reposted from Pork Network
Rick Jordahl | March 23, 2012 | Pork Network
The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling against the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin-labeling law (COOL), according to USTR General Counsel Tim Reif. The announcement was made in an interview with Mike Adams, host of AgriTalk Radio.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) stated last November that mandatory country-of-origin-labeling requirements introduced by the U.S. government is in violation of WTO agreements. WTO officially ruled that the U.S. COOL program violates WTO agreements.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) opposed COOL when it was being considered by Congress because of the costs, which far outweigh any benefits, and the trade implications. NPPC is urging the Obama administration and Congress to resolve the issue to avoid damaging retaliation from Canada and Mexico against U.S. pork products.
A WTO COOL dispute settlement panel report has confirmed that the United States has the right under WTO rules to adopt mandatory COOL requirements to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions about the food products they buy. However, the panel disagreed with the way that the United States designed its COOL requirements with regard to beef and pork.
According to Reif, the appeal is part of the “commitment to helping ensure that our consumers are provided with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of beef and pork products. The WTO panel found that the way we did it provided less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock producers.”
The COOL law requires grocers to put labels on cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and ground meat, or post signs that list the origin of the meat.
Proponents argue the law gives U.S. consumers more information in making meat purchases, but opponents say it is a protectionist measure to discourage imports.
According to Reuters, changing the law would most affect packing plants that were once big buyers of Canadian animals including those owned by JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill Inc., Hormel Foods, and Smithfield Foods.
A decision on the appeal is expected in two to three months.