‘Big Meat’ and WTO Get Country of Origin Labeling Shut Down

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‘Big Meat’ and WTO Get Country of Origin Labeling Shut Down

Country of origin labeling (COOL) regulations that tell customers where animals raised for meat were born, raised and slaughtered, are being eliminated after pressure from the meat industry and the World Trade Organization claimed it was an unfair ruling and a hindrance to the industry.

Highly contentious for more than decade, the Country of Origin regulation was signed into law as part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, better known as the Farm Bill. COOL regulations apply to beef, lamb and pork products, exempting processed meats.

“The language is tucked into a paragraph on page 13 of Division A of the 1,600-page Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, better known as the federal budget,” the Star Tribune reports.

“The paragraph’s inclusion in the budget is a testament to the lobbying power of the biggest players in the American meat industry, including Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and Hormel Foods Corp,” says the Star Tribune. “Both companies have battled in the courts and Congress against country-of-origin labeling, which both call onerous and ineffective.”

According to the WTO, the bill violated international free trade laws “by requiring extensive record-keeping that discourages U.S. meat processors from buying foreign products,” explains the Star Tribune.

The U.S. is expected to appeal the WTO’s decision, but will have to comply with the WTO ruling by May 1, 2015.

Canada and Mexico were the two countries that filed the charges leading up to the WTO’s decision, and both countries are threatening to implement tariffs on hundreds of American products unless the COOL ruling is repealed by the WTO deadline.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Jason Lam

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