When USDA issued its final rule on country of origin labeling (COOL) last week, it became a prime topic of discussion at the spring meeting of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors in Washington, D.C.  Producers and exporters of U.S. beef, pork and lamb are particularly concerned that the revised rule still won’t comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations, which would make U.S. products vulnerable to retaliatory measures imposed by Canada and Mexico. These two markets imported a combined total of more than $4 billion in U.S. red meat in 2012 – which was nearly 35 percent of the total worldwide export value.

The attached audio report includes the following comments from the USMEF board meeting:

  • Guest speaker James Wiesemeyer of Informa Economics tells USMEF members that if the USDA rule is not WTO-compliant, Congress may have to revisit the issue in the Farm Bill.
  • Thad Lively, USMEF senior vice president for trade access, explains the likely timeline for a WTO ruling and the steps Canada and Mexico would need to take before imposing any retaliatory measures.
  • Chad Russell, USMEF regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic offers his concerns about the likelihood of Mexico retaliating against U.S. pork.