The U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA) says the decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel in disputes over the U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) law affirms the right of the U.S. to require COOL for meat products.

The dispute panel disagreed with specifics of how the U.S. designed the implementation of its requirements saying COOL accords less favorable treatment to imported Canadian and Mexican cattle and imported Canadian hogs than to like domestic products. The three-member panel released its final report Nov. 18. The next step in the process is for the report to be adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body or appealed to the WTO Appellate Body.

In 2008, Canada and Mexico initiated dispute settlement proceedings against the U.S. related to COOL requirements for meat products. Canada and Mexico alleged that the U.S. COOL requirements were designed to achieve a protectionist objective, and that the COOL law, its implementing regulations and a USDA letter related to the COOL requirements discriminate against their livestock exports to the U.S., breaching WTO obligations.

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