Jun 25, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC -- This morning, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee held a hearing entitled "Country of Origin Labeling [COOL] and Trade Retaliation," to explore how the COOL rule effects U.S. producers, businesses, and consumers.
In May, the World Trade Organization (WTO) determined that the COOL rule, which requires labeling of country of origin on muscle cuts of meat, violates international trade rules and has damaged Canada and Mexico's meat and livestock industries. Earlier this month, Canada applied to the WTO to enforce retaliation against the U.S. by imposing a tariff on U.S. goods, to the tune of over $2 billion. A list of goods Canada plans to retaliate against includes rice, and Mexico is said to be considering a similar list when they apply to retaliate.
On June 10, the House passed a bipartisan bill to repeal the violating portions of COOL, and today's hearing, initiated by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), addressed the impact of these retaliation measures, and encouraged the Senate to act.
Roberts kicked off the hearing with a blunt assessment of the situation, saying: "The fact is, retaliation is coming, and we have to face it... the Senate must act prior to the WTO's ruling on retaliation."
Changing mandatory labeling to a voluntary measure was supported by the U.S. Cattlemen's Association and a few Committee members, though a majority of the witnesses were focused on avoiding retaliation as opposed to commenting on the rule itself or proposing a new policy. As a member of the COOL Reform Coalition, USA Rice shares this position, and encourages the Senate to pass a bill to prevent the $3 billion retaliation that Mexico and Canada could enforce in tariffs against U.S goods.
"The U.S. has run out of appeals at the WTO," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "It's time to bring COOL into compliance with our WTO obligations and lift the threat of retaliation from the heads of rice farmers and exporters."
Contact: Kristen Dayton (703) 236-1464