If the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative determines an appeal of the recent World Trade Organization ruling on Country of Origin Labeling is in order, it's not likely to come until after the first of the year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.
The WTO on Oct. 20 said the United States' revised COOL law violates technical barriers to trade because it provides less favorable treatment for Canadian and Mexican livestock. The panel that reviewed the rule also said it requires increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin and entails a higher recordkeeping burden.
The Oct. 20 ruling was the second time COOL was deemed inconsistent with WTO requirements; the first came in 2012 on a previous version of the rule.
Vilsack said while it is still up to the USTR to decide if it will appeal the WTO ruling, the WTO appeals group said it would be helpful to wait until January to file an appeal due to a backlog of "other pressing business."
Meanwhile, Vilsack said he is continuing to work on a compromise for COOL.
"I continue to press our team at USDA to see if there is a way in which we can work within the confines of the statute that Congress has passed, and still create a scenario in which, consistent with that statutory directive, that we are also walking the fine line that the WTO has established," he said.