May 18, 2015 – ARLINGTON, VA – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued the following statement from FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin on the release of the WTO Appellate Body’s Compliance Report on the United States’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements.  The Panel Report addresses a dispute with Mexico and Canada over concerns with the United States’ COOL law specific to meat.

Sarasin stated, “With the release of today’s report, the WTO has once again reached the inescapable conclusion that the United States’ COOL law violates our international trade commitments. 

“This decision should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the issue through the WTO’s dispute settlement process.  FMI and our partners up and down the supply chain raised many of the concerns addressed in the Compliance Panel’s report as far back as 2002, before COOL became law, and continued to raise them through USDA’s 2013 regulatory revisions.  The Appellate Body’s report is the final word on the matter and makes it clear that our country of origin labeling law needs to be changed.

“The time has come to stop tinkering around the edges of COOL; the WTO dispute settlement process has run its course.  Congress must act expeditiously to bring COOL into line with our international trade obligations.  Allowing Canada and Mexico to impose retaliatory tariffs on US exports would not only damage US jobs and companies that have no stake in COOL, it would also damage the United States’ reputation as a leader of the rules-based international trading system.

“Chairman Michael Conaway of the House Committee on Agriculture and Chairman Pat Roberts of the Senate Committee on Agriculture have both indicated that they are prepared to move quickly to address today’s Appellate Body ruling.  FMI commends them for their leadership on this issue and urges all the members of Congress to work with and support the Chairmen’s efforts to fix this problem before US exports are unfairly penalized.”