WTO rules against U.S. in meat label fight

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A World Trade Organization panel has ruled against the United States in a trade dispute over meat labels with Canada and Mexico, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources familiar with the findings, said on Thursday that the United States lost its case before a panel set up to determine whether its revised labeling rules complied with an earlier WTO ruling.

On Friday, Jeff English, a spokesman for Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, declined to confirm the WTO panel decision and said Canada will only speak about it once it becomes public.

All three governments received the compliance panel's confidential decision earlier this summer, but have not publicly commented on its contents.

The U.S. rule, which requires retailers such as grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat, has resulted in fewer Canadian pigs and cattle being exported to the U.S. since 2009, according to the Canadian government.

The WTO ruled in June 2012 that the U.S. labeling program, known as COOL, unfairly discriminated against Canada and Mexico because it gave less favorable treatment to beef and pork imported from those countries than to U.S. meat.

The WTO said the U.S. must bring its labeling rules into compliance with the ruling by May 23, 2013. The U.S. government made changes, but Canadian officials said they only made the situation worse, and asked the WTO to form the compliance panel.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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Chuck Burns    
Menasha, WI USA  |  August, 24, 2014 at 08:19 AM

So people prefer US meat rather that foreign. Sounds good to me.

USA  |  August, 24, 2014 at 01:38 PM

And perhaps I prefer Canadian depending on how it is handled; I certainly don't want Chinese.

Carl Stevenson    
PA  |  August, 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM

screw the WTO, and their little dog, too. They have NO business telling us we can't know where our food comes from. It doesn't affect me because I raised my own food eo buy from trusted neighbors, but everyone deserves to know where their food comes from. If that results in less imported food, that's great. Support our own farmers and don't let the tyrants in DC and other centers of corruption and treason tell you otherwise.

USA  |  August, 24, 2014 at 01:36 PM

I, for one, want to know the origin of ALL of my food,USA, CANADA, etc.. In this rare instance the USA has it right except that there should also be a tracking number for the meat to backtrack to it's exact origin.

USA  |  August, 24, 2014 at 01:42 PM

Buy local and support your local farmers. USDA Organic means very little these days; it's an expensive, faulty and corrupt system of bureaucrats. Buy local where you can shake their hands or get your hands around their throats as the case merits.

SD  |  August, 25, 2014 at 07:07 PM

You boys commenting previous to this are missing a few points: #1. There is a large amount of branded, labelled, and identified beef available in most large supermarkets and many smaller ones and local meat markets across the USA. The people who 'own' those brands paid to do the identification, so why should government do that costly work for people who choose NOT to identify themselves as the producers, but want government to advertise that it is "USA Beef" with no real identification of ranch of orgin? #2.The current system was developed with no small cost by all the 'players', producers of all three nations making up the 'north american beef brand' which is widely accepted as THE high quality beef of choice, world-wide. #3. Several consumer studies have shown that they want RANCH of origin, not simply "product of USA". Maybe you do not recognize that there is MORE to producing safe, wholesome beef than raising the critter: don't forget the processing required. Of course, promoters of COOL insisted that they did NOT want THEIR ranches of origin revealed! #4. We are not producing enough cattle in the USA to fill the demand. Don't forget that 'demand' is the amount of beef sold at a price profitable to all in the production system, not simply consumption. Production will increase as rancher profitability continues adequate for a reasonable income over our costs.

Big boy    
Texas  |  August, 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Maxine did you know we import about 38% of the beef that is consumed in this country. I bet you are on your states beef commission I also bet it's nice to get your flights,rooms,and meals payed for when you go to the NCBA convention.

August, 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Maxine: Thank you for your presentation. You always submit well researched material for our consideration and to add I am not a member of any beef board. I have made my income from one facet or another of the beef business my total adult life. The cattle business, if treated as a business, can be very rewarding and I have accomplished my goals without government protection. If the COOL proponents need government intervention than there must be a problem with their perception of need.

August, 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Maxine: Thank you for your presentation. You always submit well researched material for our consideration and to add I am not a member of any beef board. I have made my income from one facet or another of the beef business my total adult life. The cattle business, if treated as a business, can be very rewarding and I have accomplished my goals without government protection. If the COOL proponents need government intervention than there must be a problem with their perception of need.

Texas  |  August, 26, 2014 at 02:06 PM

I wish the NCBA would give up there government tax the checkoff and survive on their own.

Kansas  |  August, 27, 2014 at 07:38 AM

Those who don't support COOL need to seriously reexamine your reasons and grow some backbone to the types of the WTO. They have no power over the USA passed law on COOL or any other USA passed law. The only power they have is what we give them. Our prices with COOL have been record setting and regardless of what the FEW say that consumers don't care by their one survey is one big fat lie. The panel of the WTO who may have made the ruling is biased (do your research before you start typing or spouting off when you haven't dealt with it). I find it interesting that when you ask some opposing producers today why we have higher cattle prices than at any time in our history I hear this: Drought (we have always had droughts and even worse than this one), Cattle numbers are low (we have known our numbers were declinging at alarming numbers since early in the 1990's), Checkoff (one of the most corrupt, mismanaged USA producer destroying funds going, how many have we lost since it's inception?) and the only thing that has changed since our prices in 2008 has been the passage of Country of Origin Labeling. WE DO NOT NEED THE WTO. Why we give foreigners power to rule over the USA is INSANE! Let the middle East terrorist a chance to run your lives and you mights see what is next. We need to stand up and tell everyone if you want to do business here you will do it the way WE do it or keep what you have and enjoy your life. I think a majority feel like me not like the minority group opposed to COOL. Sorry if it offended any of you but it all is the truth and your lies have been exposed for what they are.

August, 27, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Thank you for your thoughts Mike. I would appreciate you providing me with the numbers and sources of your information. Under what principle was the WTO formed and what input stance did the United States contribute? What influence has the value of the dollar as reflected in the dollar index had on our demand? What influence has the stimulus package had on our demand and will that demand remain without further injection of cash? What has low interest rates contributed to demand? What influence will the rapid increase in carcass weights have on future markets? With improved genetics and production systems, will we ever have a need for as many cows in production as were in the previous decade? You may be providing us with much needed information but I need the research and statistics footnoted. Thank you.

Kansas  |  August, 28, 2014 at 07:33 AM

LR, This will be two parts but in response to your questions, it is a circular argument about irrelevant issues. My comments were not what you asked about. I argue that the U.S. should not cede its sovereignty to an unelected, unappointed international tribunal. The fact that an earlier Congress naïvely agreed to give up a huge portion of our sovereignty does not weaken my argument one bit. Further, I argue that the implementation of COOL has had a positive impact on cattle prices. Regardless of what else may have also contributed to higher prices, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that COOL did not substantively help to markedly improve domestic prices. Without question the NCBA misused Beef Checkoff funds. Indeed, Canada and Mexico claim that domestic producers are receiving more for their cattle than are Canadian and Mexican producers and they assert that COOL is the reason. Packers could pay more for imports (Canadian or Mexican) but they chose not to. I recall in 2009 that NCBA dismissed the relevance of our loss of about 5 million mother cows using the same old argument that improved genetics have eliminated the need for so many cattle. But, now, we are in one of the tightest supply/demand squeezes we’ve seen in our history and one can hardly argue that the situation would not be materially improved if we had those 5 million mother cows back.

Kansas  |  August, 28, 2014 at 07:36 AM

CBB research shows that consumers want to know where their food comes from. NCBA has twisted this to mean what ranch the food comes from. Informed consumers know that ranchers can bring cattle on to their ranches from other producers as well as other countries. Ranch Origin is not valuable information to the mass consumer. It is only of value to the local consumer who seeks out a local rancher. As for the North American Beef Brand, no one promotes that world wide. USMEF promotes only US meats and I believe Canada promotes only Canadian beef. The two questions about DEMAND. Demand is simply what someone is willing to pay. Not Maxine's definition, " demand is the amount of beef sold at a price profitable to all in the production system." Demand has nothing to do with profitability. You can have growing demand and still go broke. Lastly, if you have been in the beef business your adult life and have accomplished your goals without government protection. I guess you have never heard about the Packers and Stockyard Act, or Sherman Anti-trust Act, or the USDA standards for grading beef, or Brand Inspection, or simple contract laws, or currency laws that assure there is value in the means of exchange, or the Tennessee Valley Authority, or the Louisiana Purchase, or the Bill of Rights, or even the Beef Research and Information Act (Beef Checkoff). My resource is 40+ years in the business of ranching and paying the bills while working to protect independent producers! The writer is not looking for citations to my arguments again they work to distort and twist the facts. To argue against all this is rhetoric and unjustified. It is like the writer Maxine who just don't get it.

Nebraska  |  August, 28, 2014 at 09:41 AM

Wow, if there is no value in Country of Origin Labeling I guess the export market is a waste of time and resources. USMEF says informed foreign consumers returns $216.73 per head to the US producer in 2012. Information is money, for those who hold it and those who release it, not both but one or the other.

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