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Origin labeling may increase price of meat.

The country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) law requiring beef, pork, poultry, and lamb sold in the U.S. to carry information about the source of the meat was passed into law in 2002. Although the law passed over a decade ago, it did not become effectively binding until 2009. Industry and consumer supporters of the law include the National Farmers Union and the Consumer Federation of America which believe COOL will help end consumers make informed decision on meat purchases. Opponents of the law come from Canada and Mexico which both complained to the World Trade Organization that COOL created an unfair trade advantage. Members of the select House-Senate panel are balking after the World Trade Organization ruled that Mexico and Canada could impose retaliatory trade tariffs on other products if the United States does not implement the law in less prejudicial fashion. Several lawmakers expressed an interest in repealing or revising COOL at the first negotiating session on the final version of the new $500 billion U.S. farm bill.

It appears from both reports the U.S. is moving forward with implementing COOL, irrespective of the ruling of the WTO. It will be interesting to see if this impacts trade or even creates the possibility for a trade war. In this case, the consumer will have a mixed benefit and negative impact. If it does raise the price of meat due to international disputes, then Americans will not be happy if their pocketbook is affected. Meanwhile, if this creates a ripple effect in origination labeling of more foods or more products, it could be an ultimate boon for local businesses.

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