US Farm Bill Offers Opportunity to Resolve M-COOL Dispute

by 5m Editor
20 July 2012, at 11:34am

US - A University of Missouri agricultural economist suggests the 2012 US Farm Bill offers an opportunity to bring Mandatory US Country of Origin Labelling legislation into compliance with international trading rules, Bruce Cochrane writes.

Last month the World Trade Organization Appellate Body upheld a November 2011 Dispute Settlement Panel ruling that US Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling discriminates against imported livestock and is inconsistent with US trade obligations.

The US now has 15 months to bring the law into compliance or face the prospects of retaliatory tariffs.

Dr Ron Plain, an agricultural economics professor with the University of Missouri, says the US Farm Bill presents an opportunity to resolve the issue.

Dr Ron Plain-University of Missouri

About every five years the US government rewrites the general farm legislation.

That is an obvious vehicle for straightening out some of this. The original Country of Origin Labelling requirements were in an early version of the US Farm Bill so that's possible.

Another possibility will be stand-alone legislation that would move through to settle the dispute.

Most likely what ever happens will be fairly slow.

If it's taken care of with respect to our Farm Bill that's a good chance that it will be handled here in 2012.

The current Farm Bill expires this year so Congress is under pressure to write a new one.

They may simply go with a one year extension but there's sort of this window of opportunity because of the fact congress has to rewrite this major piece of legislation to deal with it here it in the next 12 months or so.

If it's not handled at this time then it could well drag out for two to three years or longer.

Dr Plain suggests US farmers have more to lose through trade disputes than those in most other countries so most of US agriculture will be in favor of the government resolving the problem.