The controversy over U.S. country-of-origin-labeling regulations on pork and beef has just begun and likely won’t be resolved until 2011. Canada and Mexico have begun their arguments against COOL in front of the World Trade Organization, according to

WTO is expected to rule on the matter sometime next summer, according to the North American Meat Processors Association.

Canadian and Mexican pork and beef producers argued in a hearing last week that COOL has slashed their exports to the United States and that the law violates WTO rules governing bilateral trade. COOL has caused a $40- to $60-per-head drop in Mexican cattle prices imported into the United States, according to Alejandro Gomez, an attorney for Mexican cattlemen.

The United States claimed the financial impacts resulted from choices made by market participants rather than from the U.S. law itself. Washington also argued COOL was intended to inform consumers about the origins of their food and it hasn’t negatively impacted Canadian cattle.

“We correctly anticipated the arguments the U.S. would use to and … it is clear that the U.S. intends to defend this trade barrier vigorously," Travis Toews, president, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said in a statement.

Canada and Mexico received support at the WTO hearing from 13 other countries, according to NAMP, quoting another attorney for Mexican cattlemen. Donald deKeiffer said only Australia had “real world” problems with the COOL regulations, but all were concerned about the negative precedent the U.S. policy is setting.

A final panel report is scheduled for July 2011, most likely followed by an appeal taking another year, CCA projected.