The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body upheld much of last year’s WTO dispute settlement panel ruling that the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) violates the United States’ trade obligations under the WTO agreement on technical barriers to trade. According to the WTO Appellate Body, COOL provides “less favorable treatment to imported Canadian cattle and hogs than to like domestic cattle and hogs.” The COOL measure “lacks even-handedness because its recordkeeping and verification requirements impose a disproportionate burden on upstream producers and processors of livestock, as compared to the information conveyed to consumers through the mandatory labeling requirements for meat sold at the retail level.” The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said, “We believed when it was being debated in Congress that mandatory COOL would be an unnecessary burden to trade. We have maintained that belief consistently from the outset, and we will be working to achieve U.S. compliance with today’s WTO decision.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said, “This most recent decision is very similar to the initial ruling made three months ago. Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, we wasted three months and taxpayer dollars on an appeal process. This did nothing more than jeopardize our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef.” The National Farmers Union (NFU), which supports COOL, said, “The ruling was a split decision. It stated that imported animals are being discounted due to the segregation requirements and additional recordkeeping that is required to comply with the law. The good news is this can be changed through the regulatory process and there is no need to change the law that informs consumers from where their food comes. A statutory change is unnecessary and NFU will not support any such modification.” Mandatory country-of-origin labeling was enacted as a part of the 2008 farm bill.
Source URL: http://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/business/burden-trade-instrumental-cool-ruling