If the World Trade Organization (WTO) sides with Canada and Mexico in their complaint that country-of-origin labeling (COOL) laws in the U.S. put their meat exports at an unfair disadvantage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture should rescind those laws and allow Congress to resolve the issue, said 112 members of Congress in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The letter was written by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), ranking member and chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, respectively. Another 110 of their colleagues also signed on.
“If the WTO finds the COOL rule to be non-compliant, the resulting consequences could have a detrimental impact on our economy,” said Costa in a statement. “Congress must be prepared to act and find a solution that maintains a healthy relationship with our trading partners and protects the American economy.”
COOL laws mandate that meat products be labeled to tell where the food animals were born, raised and slaughtered.
The members’ letter comes on the heels of Tuesday’s D.C. Circuit Court decision to uphold the COOL rule following the American Meat Institute’s appeal of an earlier legal decision supporting the rule.
The WTO has reportedly finished its most recent compliance report on COOL set to be released in September, according to the trade publication Washington Trade Daily. That new report apparently still finds a number of problems with the COOL law as it currently exists.
The WTO had previously determined the U.S. COOL law incompatible with WTO obligations in Canada and Mexico’s initial complaint. In May 2013, USDA presented an adjusted rule that the two countries also challenged on the same grounds that it put their meat exports at a competitive disadvantage.© Food Safety News