A World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel ruled on October 20 that the United States has not yet complied with a 2012 WTO finding that U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for meat products violate the United States' WTO obligations. COOL regulations require retail packaging to disclose where animals used in meat products are born, raised, and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico claim that these regulations give domestic companies an unfair advantage over their own importers.
Currently, there is a debate within the United States over whether Congressional action is required to comply with the WTO ruling. COOL opponents, including numerous multi-national corporations and U.S. trade associations, fear retaliation if either Canada or Mexico decides to subject certain U.S. exports to retaliatory tariffs. Opponents are pressing Congress to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL determined to be in violation of the United States' WTO obligations. Proponents, including rancher groups and food safety advocates, counter that calls to repeal COOL are premature. They propose that Congress should wait for the conclusion of the United States' appeal, which was filed on November 28, before taking action. They argue that since imports of beef from the complaining countries have actually increased, Canada and Mexico's complaints are unfounded.