NAMI applauds House Agriculture Committee action on bill to repeal mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) applauded House Agriculture Committee approval of H.R. 2393, a bill to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat and poultry. 

Approval of the bill came just two days after a World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body confirmed for the fourth time that U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labeling rules discriminate against foreign products and are therefore a violation of the United States’ WTO obligations.

“We thank Chairman Conaway and Livestock Subcommittee Ranking Member Costa for their leadership on this important issue and we are encouraged that 68 Democrats and Republicans have co-sponsored the bill,” said NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter.  “Today’s action is the first step towards full repeal and can help the United States avoid the retaliatory tariffs promised by Canada and Mexico.”

Carpenter said that although COOL proponents claim consumers are demanding the information and support the law, analysis of the marketplace suggests otherwise.  “Research by Kansas State University showed no change in demand for products after the labels went into effect,” Carpenter said. 

In addition, new data released earlier this month by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation showed that country-of-origin information maintained its ninth place spot on the list of 11 pieces of labeling information that consumers use when choosing a food product. Perhaps more importantly, the percentage of consumers saying they use COOL labels has declined markedly from 29 percent in 2013, to 26 percent in 2014 to 15 percent in 2015.

“The U.S. made a promise to live up to it WTO obligations.  We have not kept that promise and WTO panels have told us so four times.  It’s time we listen,” Carpenter said.  “The House Agriculture Committee is to be commended for taking action to bring us into compliance and avoid retaliation.”

Source: NAMI