The United States has decided to ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) for arbitration over the amount of damages Canada claims has been caused by U.S. country or origin labeling (COOL) laws regarding pork, beef and poultry meat.

The WTO on May 18, ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in the two country’s longstanding dispute with the U.S. over COOL, stating that the rules were unfair and discriminate against Canadian and Mexican pigs and cattle.

Canada and Mexico have filed with the WTO to seek more than $3 billion in retaliation, which prompted the U.S. decision to seek arbitration.

“Canada is disappointed that the U.S. is attempting to prolong the WTO process by requesting arbitration," Gerry Ritz, Canadian minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Ed Fast, Canadian minister of International Trade, said in a joint statement.

"The U.S. is out of options and retaliation cannot be avoided by drawing out this process. The chief economist for the United States Department of Agriculture has stated that COOL is costing the American industry alone some $2.6 billion (USD) annually. Canada is confident in our assessment that COOL is causing more than $3 billion in annual damages to the Canadian cattle and hog industry."

COOL has been opposed by U.S. industry groups such as the National Pork Producers Council.

The U.S. House of Representatives on June 10 passed a bill that would repeal the U.S. COOL laws, but the Senate has yet to vote on the matter. Sen. Pat Roberts, the chairman of the U.S. Senate agriculture committee, has pushed for the repeal of COOL.