The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) reiterated their continued strong support for country-of-origin labeling (COOL) today, despite a disappointing decision from the World Trade Organization that COOL regulations are in some respects inconsistent with U.S. trade obligations. The ruling results from a challenge to COOL filed by Canada and Mexico at the WTO in 2008.
"The WTO has never said we cannot require country-of-origin labeling," said USCA President Danni Beer. "The WTO has only explained that COOL has to be implemented in a way that conveys sufficient origin information to the consumer. USCA strongly supported the revised COOL regulations issued in response to that original WTO decision, and we continue to believe those rules are WTO consistent."
"While we will continue to review the WTO's decision, we urge the U.S. Trade Representative to consider appealing the ruling if there are meritorious grounds to do so," continued Beer. "In addition, we ask USDA to review the ruling to determine whether additional regulatory changes may permit the U.S. to come into compliance without weakening COOL."
"USCA has tirelessly defended COOL from attack not only at the WTO, but also in our domestic courts and the halls of Congress," continued Beer. "We will continue to do so in light of today's decision, and we look forward to working with the Administration to address the decision in the most constructive way possible."
"There may still be many months before the WTO process reaches a final result," Beer cautioned. "Today's ruling provides no basis for false alarms about repealing the COOL statute itself. Congress should continue to resist such premature and unfounded calls to weaken a law that enjoys such strong support from America's consumers, ranchers, and producers."