WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, says the United States should revise its country-of-origin labeling rule after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in an ongoing dispute over the requirement that grocery stores indicate the country, or countries, where meat was born, raised and slaughtered.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, says the United States should revise its country-of-origin labeling rule after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in an ongoing dispute over the requirement that grocery stores indicate the country, or countries, where meat was born, raised and slaughtered.


The WTO issued a report on Monday saying that the COOL rule, which took effect in 2013, discriminates against meat imports giving domestic U.S. producers an unfair advantage.


Crawford, who is chairman of a House Agriculture subcommittee that oversees livestock, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to work with Congress and industry stakeholders to amend the rule. He was joined on the letter by California Rep. Jim Costa, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.


The ruling is an opportunity "to amend the COOL statute so that it will be in compliance with our international obligations," they wrote. "This good faith effort will create more stability within the market, restore relationships with some of our most significant trade partners and prevent possible trade retaliations from Canada and Mexico."


The United States has 20 days to appeal the WTO ruling or potentially face trade sanctions from Canada and Mexico.


The COOL rule, which was included in the 2008 farm bill, has been long opposed by U.S. beef and pork industry associations who say it is a costly burden. It is favored by consumer advocates who say it gives shoppers needed information about the source of the food they purchase.


National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bob McCan issued a statement after the WTO ruling saying Congress must find a permanent solution to the issue.


"Our producers have already suffered discounts and faced the closure of a number of feedlots and packing plants due to the effects of this short-sighted regulation. COOL is a failed program that will soon cost not only the beef industry, but the entire U.S. economy, with no corresponding benefit to consumers or producers," McCan wrote.


Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued a statement urging the United States to appeal the ruling and for Congress to keep the COOL rule as written.


"People have the right to know where the food they feed their families comes from. It is nonsensical that a label that lets consumers know the origin of their food is a trade barrier," Hauter wrote. "Congress and USDA must stand up to the WTO and maintain the existing requirements for country of origin labeling."