OTTAWA, Ontario – Canadian government officials said Canada is prepared to take "whatever steps may be necessary, including retaliation" to achieve a resolution to the long-running disagreement over country-of-origin labeling (COOL).

The Obama administration appealed the World Trade Organization's (WTO) latest ruling on COOL. A WTO dispute resolution panel found requiring companies to list the country-of-origin of beef and other meats was discriminatory. The US had 60 days to appeal the decision, and the appeal was filed Nov. 28.

“Canada fully expected the United States to live up to its international trade obligations and comply with the WTO ruling, which reaffirms Canada’s long-standing view that the revised US COOL measure is blatantly protectionist and fails to comply with the WTO’s original ruling against it,” Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, said in a joint statement.

“With this delay, the United States is yet again preventing both of our countries from enjoying the benefits of freer and more open trade and is hurting farmers, ranchers and workers in the United States and Canada.”

Some large meatpackers and industry groups have opposed COOL, calling it a failed program that will only result in higher costs and retaliation by Mexico and Canada. But other groups have supported COOL as a way to satisfy consumer demand for more information about the sources of the foods they buy. The National Farmers Union applauded the decision to appeal the WTO ruling.

“The decision today by the Office of the United States Trade Presentative to appeal the WTO ruling on COOL is the right thing to do for American family farmers, ranchers and consumers,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president. “The October WTO ruling found once again that the COOL law is WTO-compliant and acknowledged that the May 2013 USDA regulations were a significant improvement in terms of providing more accurate information to consumers. Nonetheless, the WTO incorrectly found the rules were noncompliant and an appeal is the obvious course of action.”