WTO issues COOL compliance date

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012- In a decision published Tuesday, A WTO Arbitrator gave the Unites States until May 23, 2013 to comply with a ruling that challenged Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat.

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“Consumers want and have the right to know from where their meat comes from,” said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend the COOL law, which was upheld in June. Only the rules that were issued to implement COOL law are in question and can be adjusted.”

He added that the organization will work with the USDA and the Office of the United States Trade Representative to ensure that new COOL rules fit with the WTO's ruling.

Canada and Mexico filed a complaint against the United States' COOL rules amended in the 2008 Farm Bill, which required retailers provide labels with the source of certain foods. The WTO ruled in June that the law, while not faulty in nature, discriminated against imported meat products.

The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body formally adopted the ruling on July 23, leading to disputes between the each party on a deadline for the United States to comply. Canada and Mexico then requested WTO arbitration to determine the deadline.

In his Dec. 4 ruling, WTO Arbitrator and former Appellate Body Judge Giorgio Sacerdoti rejected the United States' request for a January 2014 deadline and determined May 23, 2012 to be “a reasonable period of time for the United States to implement the recommendations and rulings of the DSB.”

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) solicited comments on the paperwork burden of the rule. A notice in the Federal Register published Tuesday lists “the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) intention to request approval, from the Office of Management and Budget, for an extension and revision to the currently approved information collection of the Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).” Comments are due Feb. 4, 2013. 


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