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Mexico will keep fighting COOL

The Mexican government pledged Thursday to continue its complaint against mandatory U.S. country-of-origin labelling (COOL) at the World Trade Organization, even though Canada has put its complaint on hold.

The Reuters news service on Thursday reported that Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas has announced Mexico’s case will continue.

Cardenas’ Canadian counterpart, Gerry Ritz, said earlier this month that Canada’s request for formal consultations with the U.S. via the WTO dispute settlement process is now being held “in abeyance.”

That means Canada’s complaint, filed in December, won’t be pursued for now but won’t be withdrawn either, in case it needs to be revived as Ottawa monitors how the U.S. government applies its final COOL rule, which Washington released Jan. 12.

U.S. COOL legislation, which dates back to Washington’s 2002 Farm Bill, requires country-of-origin labelling for beef, pork and other imported commodities, and was expanded in the 2008 Farm Bill to cover chicken and goat meat.

But the U.S. government in its final rule agreed to allow processors to use a COOL tag showing a “mixed origin” — for example, saying beef was of “U.S. and Canadian origin.” That, in turn, is expected to spare packers and feeders the expense of segregating animals that are designated “Canadian.”

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