Groups Weigh in On WTO COOL Ruling
The World Trade Organization Appellate Body has upheld an earlier ruling that U.S. Country of Origin Labeling provisions violate U.S. trade obligations under the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. The ruling does - however - affirm the right of the U.S. to adopt labeling requirements that provide information to American consumers about the meat they buy. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk was pleased with that finding - as was National Farmers Union. NFU President Roger Johnson says consumers have a right to know where their meat comes from - and want to know. He says the WTO decision confirmed that right. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President Bob McCan says the decision is very similar to the initial ruling made three months ago. Instead of working to bring the U.S. into WTO compliance - he says we wasted three months and taxpayer dollars on an appeal process. McCan says that did nothing more than jeopardize our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico - the largest importers of U.S. beef.
According to McCan - cattlemen need a government that demands WTO compliance of our trade partners and ensures the U.S. abides by the same guidelines. He says NCBA will work with the Administration and Congress to find a permanent solution to the issue in order to bring the U.S. back into compliance. He says it's critical for the U.S. to lead by example.
National Pork Producers Council President R.C. Hunt says NPPC has believed mandatory COOL would be an unnecessary burden to trade from the start. He says the group will also work to achieve compliance with the decision. If the U.S. fails to comply - Hunt points out the U.S. risks retaliation from Canada and Mexico. He says NPPC will work with the government to reform the labeling regime for meat. Hunt adds that NPPC has asked the Canadian government to recognize the U.S. swine herd health status as equivalent to Canada's and to reform its hog subsidy programs. He says NPPC is hopeful the Canadian government will see the negative effects its programs have on U.S. producers.
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