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Quick Action by U.S. on Mandatory COOL Unlikely
Dr. Steve Meyer - Paragon Economics

Farmscape for May 17, 2012   (Episode 4152)

The president of Paragon Economics suggests, in the event a WTO ruling declaring U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling a violation of the United States' international trade obligations is upheld, legislative changes will probably be needed to bring the law into compliance.

Earlier this month the World Trade Organization Appellate Body heard the United States' appeal of a November 2011 WTO ruling that U.S. Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling affords U.S. produced livestock preferential treatment and violates U.S. trade obligations.

Dr. Steve Meyer, the president of Paragon Economics, says in the event the original ruling is upheld, the U.S. will have about one year to rectify the situation before Canada and Mexico can apply retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.

Clip-Dr. Steve Meyer-Paragon Economics:
Two possibilities, one of them is that USDA, the administration could change the rules to meet what WTO is demanding but the problem is the law is pretty prescriptive and most of us don't really think there's a lot of wiggle room to change the rule so that it meets WTO demands and still meets the letter of the U.S. law.

For that reason most of us think that it's going to be a legislative fix in that congress is going to have to change the actual law in order to meet the WTO conditions and that's more difficult to do.

There's been talk about tying it to the farm bill.

The way the farm bill is moving now and the lack of attention that this has gotten so far in the U.S. and the fact that we don't have a resolution to this appeal yet makes that less likely and so that's a challenge that we have of trying to get congress to actually act on something as, what they would view as inconsequential as this, what we would view as quite consequential, changing law in order to meet the WTO ruling.

Dr. Meyer says, given there is an appeal and it will be some time before a decision is rendered, he doesn't believe action on Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling is imminent but rather is down the road anywhere from a few months to a year or so.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council

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