In spite of Vilsack's enthusiasm over the new rules on Friday, industry experts are saying Canadian and Mexican meat imports have dropped significantly over the last fours since the original COOL program was enacted, and additional drops should be expected as a result of the more complicated new rules issued last week.

“USDA remains confident that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the mandatory COOL requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded last week.

The final rules modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut covered commodities to not only require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps occurred but they also remove the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.

"Under COOL, retailers must provide their customers with information about the origin of various food products, including fruits, vegetables, fish, shellfish and meats.

Mandatory COOL requirements help consumers make informed purchasing decisions about the food they buy. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is responsible for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the COOL regulations," a USDA statement issued last Thursday reads.

The statement says the new rules came about as a result of a June 2012 affirmation of an earlier WTO Panel decision finding that the United States’ COOL requirements for certain meat commodities discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and thus were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Canada and Mexico both claim the new rules fall short of meeting WTO obligations and issued statements following Friday's published new rules stating that all options will be considered by their respective governments, including retaliation, if the United States does not comply with the WTO findings.