The National Pork Producers Council and 34 state pork producer organizations are urging the Senate to take up legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry before Congress takes a month-long recess beginning in early August.
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) in May 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.
In a letter sent today to every member of the Senate, NPPC and the state pork associations urged lawmakers “to introduce and pass legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for pork, beef and poultry before the August recess. Without swift repeal, the Congress will imperil U.S. exports and jobs.”
Canada has asked the WTO to authorize $3 billion (Canadian dollars, or about $2.4 billion U.S. dollars) a year in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports, and Mexico is seeking $713 million in retaliation.
Some senators have suggested making COOL voluntary, a proposal dismissed by the pork groups. “At this point, if Congress were to change the labeling law, the WTO would not review such changes,” the organizations said in their letter. “The only thing left for the WTO to do in the case is to determine the level of retaliation that Canada and Mexico can extract from the United States, whose day in court is over.”
They pointed out that Canada and Mexico are insisting that they will not remove the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products until there the meat labeling provisions of COOL are repealed.
The House in June approved H.R. 2393 to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions. NPPC and the state pork associations are urging the Senate to take up that measure. (Click here to read the NPPC-state letter.)