Coalition urges Congress to act on COOL law
In an effort to circumvent retaliation from Canada and Mexico, a coalition of more than 100 food companies and organizations are urging Congress to rescind elements of the country-of-origin labeling law (COOL law).
In a letter, sent on October 30, the coalition states it is unacceptable for the US to be out of compliance with its trade obligations.
“Given the negative impact on the US manufacturing and agriculture economies, we respectfully submit that it would be intolerable for the US to maintain, even briefly, a rule that has been deemed non-compliant by the WTO,” the coalition wrote. “With little potential for quick Congressional action after a WTO final adjudication, we request that Congress immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been determined to be non-compliant with international trade obligations by a final WTO adjudication.”
Last month, WTO’s compliance panel ruled the COOL statute and regulations violated WTO rules.
Specifically, the WTO concluded “the amended COOL measure increases the original COOL measure's detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the US market, because it necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin; entails a higher recordkeeping burden; and increases the original COOL measure's incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.”
The COOL law requires a label to be placed on meat packages according to where a product originated from detailing where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
In July, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit decided the law did not violate free speech.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), a coalition member, the COOL Reform Coalition has identified exported products in every state they say could be targeted by Canada and Mexico as retaliation for the statute. IDFA says this list exceeds $1.8 billion in value and includes $300 million worth of milk powders and $126 million in cheese.