FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18 2015
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Gilles Stockton, rancher, 406-428-2183; Liz Moran-Stelk, WORC staff, (406) 252-9672; or Kevin Dowling, WORC staff, (406) 252-9672
WORC statement on WTO decision
against country-of-origin labeling
Billings, Mont. – Grass Range, Montana, rancher, Gilles Stockton, issued the following statement on behalf of the Western Organization of Resource Councils upon the announcement today that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has rejected the U.S. appeal of its earlier ruling that U.S. country-of-origin labels (COOL) discriminate against Canadian and Mexican livestock.
“When a popular, commonsense law like COOL is declared trade illegal by an anonymous tribunal of the World Trade Organization, you have to wonder what U.S. law is next.
“Today’s WTO ruling on country-of-origin labels aims to prevent American consumers from knowing where their meat was born, raised, and processed. This is a sad day for consumer choice and the independent livestock producers of this country. As one neighbor put it: ‘This is fraud, what do those meat packers have to hide?’
“When trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement, commonly referred to as NAFTA, and the WTO undermine U.S. laws like COOL, it becomes very clear how the rights of citizens to govern themselves have been traded away. This WTO ruling shows the degree to which international corporations now control our economy and political process through undemocratic non-transparent trade agreements.
“If Congress ‘fast tracks’ the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that is currently in negotiation, we will see even more actions by trans-national corporations to use the WTO to overturn democratically enacted laws like COOL.
“However, the process and the fight is not over. There is still time for a solution that gives American consumers the information they demand. We ask that Congress make no changes to COOL and let the full WTO dispute process play out. It’s too soon for Congress to act. Canada’s claim of damages has been shown to be non-existent by honest independent researchers. Congress and the Obama Administration should stand in solidarity with the American people, and independent cattle producers, and not back down.”
Stockton also serves on the USDA Secretary of Agriculture’s Animal Health Advisory Committee.