Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, is proposing that the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) be replaced by a voluntary program. The World Trade Organization has ruled that the current mandatory program discriminates against Canadian and Mexican products, and the two countries have the possibility of levying stiff tariffs on U.S. goods unless the law is repealed.
Stabenow said she hopes the simple approach “will help us find a solution that benefits American consumers and American agriculture, while also finding a pathway forward between the United States and our neighbors to the north and south.”
The Republicans on the committee want to repeal the law entirely, reports the Detroit News. Gerry Ritz, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, is on record as stating that a voluntary system is not a satisfactory outcome for the country.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House in June voted to repeal the COOL labeling rule. In response to Stabenow’s proposal, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said conversations about a voluntary program “must be preceded by a full repeal of COOL, as we have an obligation to our trading partners to come into compliance.”