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Canada threatens retaliation against US if COOL law not changed

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Canadian leaders have vowed to take retaliatory action against the United States if it does not update its country of origin labeling (COOL) law, which the World Trade Organization (WTO) on October 20 ruled was in violation of U.S. international trade obligations by discriminating against pigs and cattle from Canada and Mexico.

The COOL law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and slaughtered.

“Canada will be watching this situation closely to ensure U.S. compliance in accordance with the WTO’s clear ruling. We will continue to fully assert our rights to achieve a fair resolution to our concern, including seeking authorization to implement retaliatory measures on U.S. agricultural and non-agricultural products if and as necessary,” Ed Fast, Canadian minister of international trade, andGerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food, said in a joint statement.

Several U.S. meat organizations have stated they agree with the WTO ruling, and are urging lawmakers to fix the rule.

“The United States must avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico. Retaliatory tariffs on pork would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers,” saidNational Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Howard Hill. “The United States economy can't afford to have its products restricted, through tariffs, to its No. 1 and 2 export markets. "Congress and the White House need to address this now."

In a joint statement, the North American Meat Association and the American Meat Institute, expressed similar concerns: “USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meat packers and processors, it does not bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations. By being out of compliance, the U.S. is subject to retaliation from Canada and Mexico that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.”