The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to repeal country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and chicken products. The vote comes in the threat of more than $3 billion retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico after the World Trade Organization ruled that the U.S. COOL law was discriminatory against products from those countries.
WTO’s appellate body said that the regulation runs contrary to U.S. trade obligations and imposes a burden on meat producers that have to keep up with the recordkeeping requirements, reports The Hill.
“The program has not worked and it’s time to put this failed experiment behind us once and for all,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Texas).
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the Agriculture Committee’s top Democrat, warned that the repeal came too quickly after the recent WTO decision and eliminated the chance of debate or alternatives to repealing the law entirely.
“We understand that this needs to be dealt with. My problem with this whole process is that it just is not giving people enough time to look at this and figure out what is a reasonable solution, because most other countries have labeling,” Peterson said.
“Chairman Conaway and Representative [Jim] Costa have shown incredible leadership in encouraging the U.S. live up to its obligations and abide by World Trade Organization rules,” said North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “Everyone knows this is not about food safety. It's an issue of marketing, and that should be decided in the marketplace. We hope the Senate will move quickly to vote for repeal so the President can sign the bill and put this failed experiment behind us.”
The COOL Reform Coalition called on the Senate to move quickly as well.
“Mexico and Canada are already moving towards instituting retaliatory tariffs that reportedly could reach as high as $3.6 billion in the first year,” the organization said in a statement. “The House has taken a stand to protect the U.S. manufacturing and agricultural economies, and now the ball is the Senate's court. If the Senate fails to quickly do the same, Mexico and Canada will be free to enact retaliation as soon as late summer, threatening tens of thousands of American jobs. It would be inconceivable for the Senate to not act and allow the U.S. to remain in non-compliance with the WTO rules, especially as the U.S. was instrumental in writing them.”
Source: The Hill, COOL Reform Coalition, NAMI