Congress attached a repeal of the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program to the year-end omnibus federal spending bill that will fund the government through 2016.
The bill repeals COOL requirements for muscle cuts of meat. The country-of-origin labeling law, or COOL law, would require a label to be placed on meat packages detailing where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Consumer groups lobbied for the rule, but Canada and Mexico complained about it to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which sided with them.
Earlier this month, WTO ruled Canada and Mexico could slap more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs on US products because of the COOL law which the organization said discriminates against the bordering countries’ livestock.
“We are enormously grateful that lawmakers have included language in the omnibus bill to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling for certain meat products,” says Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “Our elected leaders recognize the need for the United States to live up to its international trade obligations. This Congressional action is an important step in avoiding the financial harm so many industries will incur once Canada and Mexico initiate the tariffs sanctioned by the WTO’s ruling earlier this month.”
Both the House and Senate are expected to pass the omnibus bill in the coming days. Passage of the bill ensures the government is funded and avoids a shutdown. In addition to the funding, the bill includes “riders” or unrelated legislation that members of Congress agree to attach to the bill.