U.S. block delays Canada’s latest COOL challenge

Canada’s request for a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to rule on changes to the U.S. government’s mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules for meat will now have to wait two more weeks.

Canada wants the WTO to rule on whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) May 23 revisions to COOL comply with Washington’s WTO obligations.

USDA made its amendments after COOL, in its 2008 form, was ruled out of order by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in 2011 and WTO Appellate Body in 2012, for discriminating against Canadian and Mexican livestock and meat.

However, during the Aug. 30 DSB meeting, where Canada’s request was scheduled to be heard, “the U.S. (government) exercised its right to block (Canada’s) first request,” the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) said in a newsletter Monday.

Canada’s second request will be made for consideration at the DSB’s next meeting on Sept. 25, the CCA said.

The second request can’t be blocked, the CCA said, thus a WTO compliance panel will be set up at that time to review the new COOL rules.

The compliance panel and appeal process is expected to take until late 2014, the CCA said.

The Canadian government claims USDA’s amendments to COOL fall short of compliance and instead increase the discrimination against imported livestock in the U.S. marketplace.

Under USDA’s May revisions, COOL’s labeling provisions for muscle cuts of meat now require covered products’ labels to include even more specific information about where each of the production steps (born, raised, slaughtered) took place.

USDA’s new rule also removes the previous rule’s allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.

The CCA, for one, has previously said that where COOL has previously cost Canadian producers about $25 to $40 per head, USDA’s amended rule will increase the impact to about $90 to $100 per head. — AGCanada.com Network

Related story:
Decision on COOL-blocking injunction due within two weeks, Aug. 27, 2013

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