What will it take to revise the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law? USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the answer is “Congress.”

According to a report by Chuck Abbott for the Food & Environmental Reporting Network, Vilsack responded to a $1 trillion spending package passed by Congress over the weekend. The spending bill, which includes $2 million to address Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), requires the USDA to recommend action on COOL.

"We're stuck. We need congressional action," Vilsack said recently. "They need to convince me they've got the votes to do something. They've been given opportunities on a couple of occasions but they have yet to solve the problem."

The funding bill calls on USDA by May 1 to recommend what to do on COOL.

Vilsack adds, "They don't try to solve the problem. They make me report back to them how they can solve the problem."

COOL has been a controversial issue for a decade. Three years ago, Canada and Mexico won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that said COOL illegally discriminated against imported meat. Reuters reports in an article here, in October, the WTO argued the U.S. had failed to bring its laws into line with WTO rules within a reasonable period, further paving the way for both Canada and Mexico to impose trade sanctions.

In November, the U.S. lodged an appeal to challenge the October ruling. Read, “U.S. lodges appeal at WTO in COOL dispute.”