Today (Thursday) is the deadline as set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the U.S. to respond on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).
But Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says it’s unclear what USDA is actually going to propose to the WTO.
“We had initially thought that they would move forward with the proposed rule that they put out in March that changed to a three-tier labeling structure,” Woodall says, “where you have to put where the animal was born, raised and processed.
But Woodall says a recent development has clouded the picture even more.
“Just last week that rule went back over to OMB and has been changed,” he says. “It’s now been considered ‘economically significant’—that means that they expect it to have over a hundred-million dollar impact on our industry.
“So we don’t know whether or not that will delay the opportunity to get this submitted tomorrow (Thursday).”
So, Woodall says, one of two things could happen—neither one of them positive, from NCBA’s perspective.
“We either submit something and we go through a dispute process to determine whether or not it actually meets the criteria of the WTO—or if we don’t submit something, then we set up a situation where Canada and Mexico could accelerate their retaliation against us.
“I think in either scenario we expect Canada and Mexico to retaliate against the United States.”
Woodall says that retaliation could include retaliatory tariffs against beef, pork and other commodities.