Posted August 20, 2013
Canada has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to review U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules for meat in an ongoing trade dispute over these rules, as reported by Reuters.
According to the Reuters article, Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced Canada’s request on Monday.  Canadian cattle and hog producers argue that COOL has led to lower U.S. imports of Canadian livestock because the rules caused U.S. packers to experience additional cost for imports.     COOL supporters argue the rules offer consumers more information about where their food comes from.  Canada will not take retaliatory measures until the WTO authorizes the action.
A Wall Street Journal article on the same topic is available here.
Last year, the WTO determined that the COOL rules did not comply with WTO obligations and ordered changes to the rules by May 23 that would bring them into WTO compliance. USDA promulgated the new rules, but Canada and Mexico argue that the new rules exacerbated the problem.   

The WTO report (DS384)is available here.  For more information on this trade dispute, you can download the Congressional Research Service Report, Country-of-Origin Labeling and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling, on the National Agricultural Law Center website, here.

According to the Federal Register summary, the amended rule requires muscle cut meats to specify production steps that took place in each country listed on the origin designation.  In addition, the rule “eliminates the allowance for commingling of muscle cut covered commodities of different origin.” 

The final rule is available here.