Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says final rules that modify the Country of Origin labeling provisions published Friday (May 24) should satisfy World Trade Organization requirements to bring the original labeling program into compliance and will further strengthen the overall program by requiring origin labeling to include information such as where an animal is born, raised, slaughtered and processed.

But in spite of important endorsements to COOL and its new revisions, reactions to the program have been mixed at best with the U.S. Cattlemen's Association and the National Wildlife Federation providing early support while Cargill officials and Canadian and Mexican meat exporters are saying new revisions only make labeling more complicated and costly.

Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Trade Minister Ed Fast issued a joint statement Friday indicating the Canadian government is very disappointed with the new rules and says the changes do not bring the United States into compliance with WTO obligations. Last year the WTO maintained its decision and earlier ruling that claimed COOL violated international trade laws and discriminated against Canadian and Mexican meat industries. In July a special body of the WTO gave the U.S. until May 23 this year to amend rules to bring the program into full compliance.

The statement says the latest changes in COOL rules will increase discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs and increase damages to industry on both sides of the border.

Some Canadian officials have joined the Canadian livestock industry in calling for their government to implement retaliatory tariffs to defend producers from what they say is a major threat to the Canadian cattle and pork industries.

"Canada will consider all options at its disposal, including, if necessary, the use of retaliatory measures,” Fast responded.