WASHINGTON – A broad coalition of groups representing food and agriculture interests recently asked Congress to avert a potential economic disaster and intervene in the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) dispute with Mexico and Canada.

The COOL Reform Coalition fears that the United States faces retaliatory tariffs totaling billions of dollars if the World Trade Organization (WTO) finds US COOL regulations to be in violation of US trade obligations. A WTO dispute resolution panel is expected to issue a final report on COOL in late July.

"If Congress fails to ensure that US COOL requirements comply with our international obligations, US jobs and manufacturing will be put at risk," said Linda Dempsey, vice president of International Economic Affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. "The United States helped create the WTO to ensure that all countries play by the rules; US leadership in complying with our own obligations is critical to the United States' ability to address effectively unfair and WTO-violative trade barriers by our trading partners around the world."

The coalition sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees asking Congress to direct Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suspend indefinitely the revised COOL rule if it is found to be non-compliant with trade obligations. Tyson Foods, Hillshire Brands, Cargill and Smithfield Foods are among the many companies and trade associations that have joined the COOL Reform Coalition.