Omnibus Spending Bill Approved: Congress Cool with COOL Repeal

Dec 18, 2015
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier today, the Senate approved a package of legislation composed of the FY 2016 Omnibus spending bill and tax extenders bill following independent passage by each bill in the House.

The Omnibus spending bill totals more than $1.1 trillion worth of appropriations for federal programs and agencies for all of fiscal year 2016, which began on October 1 and avoids a shutdown of the federal government pending the President’s signature. The bill is overall supportive of agricultural program funding and does not include any provisions harmful to the United States-Cuba diplomatic relations.

The most important provision for the rice industry included in the bill repeals the controversial Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations. Earlier this year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized Canada and Mexico to assess up to 100 percent tariffs on imported goods, including rice, from the United States for more than $1 billion in damages due to the regulation’s violation of international trade laws.

Shannon Campagna, USA Rice member and director of federal government affairs for Mars, Incorporated was especially pleased by the bill’s passage.

“As part of a broader industry coalition, we’ve been working with Chairman Roberts and Chairman Conaway to address COOL, and with renewed urgency since the WTO-approved the retaliation figures for Canada and Mexico earlier this month. We’re glad to see that bipartisan leadership came together to support U.S. exports, particularly rice.”

Campagna added, “We’re confident that the President will sign the Omnibus bill into law to avoid tariffs being assessed by our essential North American trading partners.”

USA Rice has been an active participant in the COOL Reform Coalition whose goal is to bring the United States into compliance with WTO decisions on COOL.