OTTAWA, Ontario – Canada will consider retaliatory measures against the United States after the US Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Marketing Service issued a proposed rule that would modify labeling provisions for muscle cuts covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program.

Among the proposed changes, origin designations would include information about where each production step occurred and would remove the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. The rule also would amend the definition for "retailer". Meat and poultry industry groups criticized the proposed changes, saying such regulations would be burdensome to industry and unacceptable to trading partners. In response, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, said the Canadian government was extremely disappointed with the proposed changes to US COOL regulations.

“The proposed changes will increase the discrimination against exports of cattle and hogs from Canada and increase damages to Canadian industry,” Ritz said. “Our government will consider all options, including retaliatory measures, should the US not achieve compliance by May 23, 2013, as mandated by the WTO.

“We will continue to stand with Canadian cattle and hog producers against unfair Country of Origin Labeling in the US,” Ritz added.

AMS proposed the changes after the US lost an appeal of a World Trade Organization challenge brought by Canada and Mexico in 2012. The WTO Appellate Body said US mandatory COOL regulations violated trade agreements by giving less favorable treatment to Canadian cattle and hogs compared to domestic livestock.

The rule will be published in the March 11 Federal Register, and there is a 30-day comment period. Comments must be received by April 11, 2013.