CENTENNIAL, COLO. — Canada’s decision to proceed with a World Trade Organization (W.T.O.) dispute settlement process against U.S. mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (C.O.O.L.) regulations concerns the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association because of the potential retaliatory action that could be taken against U.S. beef.

"Since C.O.O.L. was first proposed, we’ve continued to have concerns about its potential implications on our relationship with our top two trading partners — not to mention its impact on domestic feeder cattle markets at our borders to the North and South," a statement issued by N.C.B.A. said. "The U.S. imports and adds value to Mexican and Canadian livestock through our feedlots, processing and infrastructure; and we export this value-added finished product back to Mexican and Canadian consumers. Any disruptions to either of these markets will have a significant economic impact on our industry.

"Unfortunately, it’s becoming clear that C.O.O.L. has damaged these critically important trading relationships, and is not putting any additional money into the pockets of cattlemen," according to N.C.B.A.

N.C.B.A. has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reinstate a joint Agricultural Marketing Service/Economic Research Service study titled, Economic Analysis of Country of Origin Implementation Costs for Producers and Processors in the Beef, Pork and Lamb Industries, that was to be completed in cooperation with the Livestock Marketing Information Center, in an effort to gain a better understanding of C.O.O.L.’s effects on the entire beef chain.

"Unfortunately, the FY 2010 Agriculture Appropriations Bill did not direct U.S.D.A. to reinstate the funding for this purpose," the association stated. "N.C.B.A. is continuing to urge U.S.D.A. to prioritize this project.

Canada and Mexico are the U.S.’s top two trading partners, combined accounting for 59% of total U.S. beef, beef variety meat and processed beef product export revenues last year.

"It is likely that Mexico will join Canada in proceeding with a formal W.T.O. dispute settlement process," N.C.B.A. concluded.