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Agricultural News

Obama Administration's USTR Files Last Appeal in WTO Ruling Against US on COOL

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:51:21 CST

Obama Administration's USTR Files Last Appeal in WTO Ruling Against US on COOL The United States filed an appeal Friday to the World Trade Organization's recent ruling against the nation's country-of-origin-labeling law, according to a report by Reuters.

The WTO said in October that Washington failed to bring into compliance with international trade law a revised version of the meat labeling law. After that decision, the US Trade Representative's office refused to comment on whether the US would seek an appeal or not. USDA Secretary Vilsack indicated in recent weeks that the WTO had told the US not to be in any hurry in filing an appeal, as there is currently a backlog of cases that the appeals process within the trade body is working through.

Canada, Mexico and other trading partners have fought the rules coming out of the Country of Origin language within the 2008 Farm Law for years, contending that they discriminate against their livestock. The WTO has agreed multiple times.

Proponents of COOL within the United States have cheered the decision by the Obama Administration on this day after Thanksgiving. The US Cattlemen's Association's Danni Beer offered this statement on Friday morning:

"USCA is pleased that the US is appealing from the panel's decision. This has been a long process but the panel's rulings appear to be incorrect in a number of respects. We look forward to having the Appellate Body review those matters properly appealed to it. COOL is important to consumers and to cattle producers in the United States trying to have the origin of their product communicated to the end user. We appreciate the support from the Administration and from many in Congress to defend this critical legislation and agency regulations."

The National Farmers Union is another group very happy with the move by the USTR. NFU President Roger Johnson applauded the decision by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to appeal the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) for family farmers, ranchers, and consumers. Johnson also urged Congress to leave the popular labeling law alone and allow the WTO process to run its course.

“The decision today by the USTR to appeal the WTO ruling on COOL is the right thing to do for American family farmers, ranchers and consumers,” said Johnson. “The October WTO ruling found once again that the COOL law is WTO-compliant and acknowledged that the May 2013 USDA regulations were a significant improvement in terms of providing more accurate information to consumers. Nonetheless, the WTO incorrectly found the rules were noncompliant and an appeal is the obvious course of action.”

No comments have been offered by the major opponents of COOL, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers and the American Meat Institute. However, at the time of the latest ruling against the US on COOL by the WTO, the AMI, along with the North American Meat Association said in part "While the U.S. has the option to appeal the ruling, we encourage USTR and USDA to instead work together with the industry and Congress to amend the COOL statute so that it complies with our international obligations and brings stability to the market. Such a change would help restore strong relationships with some of our largest and most important trading partners.”



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