World Trade Organization Appellate Body issues final decision on COOL

WTO Appellate Body's decision: the U.S. COOL legislation discriminates against Canadian livestock in the U.S. market

Canadian Cattleman’s Association

Canada Day celebrations began a bit early in the cattle industry, thanks to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body decision regarding mandatory Country Origin of Labelling (COOL).

On June 29, the Appellate Body confirmed the most important part of the WTO Dispute Panel decision of November 2011 that the U.S. COOL legislation discriminates against Canadian livestock in the U.S. market. The Appellate Body’s decision is final.

“This is the result that we have been seeking,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) President Martin Unrau.

Unrau, along with industry representatives, were in Dundurn, Saskatchewan, with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, International Trade Parliamentary Secretary Gerald Keddy and Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification and Member of Parliament for Blackstrap Lynne Yelich, when the announcement was made.

By upholding the part of the panel ruling that confirmed the discriminatory nature of COOL, the Appellate Body’s decision has provided an important victory for Canadian cattle producers. The CCA is hopeful that the U.S. will amend the COOL legislation to eliminate the discrimination.

“Going forward, the CCA will be working with its U.S. counterparts to develop a solution that eliminates the discrimination of Canadian cattle in the U.S. market,” he said. COOL has affected billions of dollars of commerce in cattle and beef products since it was implemented in 2008. At a cost of $25 to $40 per head, the current impact of COOL to Canadian producers is approximately $150 million per year.

The CCA is very grateful for the determined efforts of International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and their officials in pursuing this case at the WTO. This case has been complex and expensive to argue for both the industry and the government, but it has been well worth the effort to achieve this decision.