Canadian Trade Complaints About U.S. COOL Unfounded

The Canadian Livestock Producers Against COOL (CLiP COOL), a coalition that includes the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Pork Council, claims that U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements are in violation of both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Those claims are baseless.

“This coalition has absolutely no business dictating what information U.S. consumers should be given regarding the origins of their food, and it is presumptuous for these Canadian organizations to think they have that sort of authority within U.S. borders,” said R-CALF USA COOL Committee Chair Mike Schultz.

“If these Canadian organizations had thought this through, they would have realized that the U.S. COOL law deals with beef sold to consumers at retail stores here in the United States, not exported product,” he continued. “The WTO and NAFTA address trade between countries and require that we treat imported product no less favorably than domestic product. The U.S. COOL law does just that – it requires both imported and U.S. beef and pork to be labeled with their respective countries of origin, so R-CALF believes the Canadian coalition’s challenge is meritless.

“A few years ago, after the U.S. closed its border to Canadian cattle because of Canada’s problems with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), some Canadian groups threatened to take that matter to NAFTA and the WTO, but the border was closed for legitimate health and safety reasons, and the U.S. had every right to protect its consumers and the U.S. cattle industry,” Schultz added.

“Now that we know Canada’s BSE problems are worse than expected, more than ever U.S. beef consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from,” he concluded. “Congress realized consumers want this type of information, and it passed a law in 2002 to enact COOL. Congress isn’t likely to be intimidated because this Canadian coalition threatens to challenge our domestic laws.”

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has more than 60 affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit or, call 406-252-2516.

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