The COOL mandate that went into effect earlier this year has apparently been causing problems for some exporters to the United States. The mandate, which requires a label on meat products and some fresh produce stating where the product originated, has Canada and Mexico claiming that COOL is damaging their export market.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed to rule on the dispute over whether the COOL violates international trade agreements. Under the mandate, US meat processors must handle and label Canadian products separately, leading many of them to simply exclude Canadian products. Canadian producers also contend that the rules have produced a glut on local markets, thereby depressing prices.
According to the USDA, imports of Canadian livestock were 34 percent lower for the first six months of 2009.
The WTO panel is expected to issue its report in summer or fall 2010. It will be interesting to see how labeling mandates will affect international trade issues.