House votes to repeal "COOL," Senate urged to follow


The National Pork Producers Council is urging the Senate to take up legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry, following today’s House vote to rescind the provisions.

The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) May 18 rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals, which they send to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision allows Canada and Mexico to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going into their countries.

“We’re pleased that the House voted to repeal the meat labeling requirements of COOL,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “We need the Senate to do the same, and we need that to happen now; we must avoid trade retaliation from our No. 1 and No. 3 export markets.”

Last week, Canada announced it will ask the WTO to authorize about $3 billion (Canadian dollars, or $2.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports, and Mexico will seek $653 million in retaliation. .

While it remains to be seen on which U.S. products Canada and Mexico place tariffs, a preliminary Canadian retaliation list included fresh pork and beef, bakery goods, rice, apples, wine, maple syrup and furniture.

“We can’t afford to have our products restricted, through tariffs, to two of our most important markets,” said Prestage, who pointed out that last year the U.S. pork industry exported almost $6.7 billion of pork, including about $2.5 billion just to Canada and Mexico. “If the Senate fails to act soon and tariffs are imposed, I have no doubt that almost every state in the nation will feel the economic pain.”

The House approved by a vote of 300-131 H.R. 2393, sponsored by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions.

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