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US faces $1 billion in penalties for meat labels

Staff writer |
The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that Canada and Mexico can slap more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods in retaliation for meat labeling rules it says discriminated against Mexican and Canadian livestock.

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At issue were U.S. labels on packaged steaks and other cuts of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

The WTO has previously found that the so-called "country of origin" labeling law put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage. It ruled Monday that Canada could impose $780 million in retaliatory tariffs and Mexico could impose $228 million.

The labels are supported by some U.S. ranchers and by consumer groups. They are opposed by meatpackers who say they require costly paperwork.

The WTO's decision shifts responsibility to Congress, which is considering working a repeal of the labeling law into a massive year-end spending bill.

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