Can COOL be voluntary? Canada says 'no'

During a recent visit to Washington D.C., Canadian Agricultural Minister Lawrence MacAulay stressed that Canada does not support country-of-origin labeling, whether mandatory or voluntary.

As the AgDay segment above details, MacAulay's opposition should come as no surprise to most within the agricultural industry.

The battle over COOL between the U.S. and its North Americans neighbors came to a head in early December after the World Trade Organization ruled Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs worth $1 billion on U.S.-traded products as retaliation over COOL.

Congress went on to repeal COOL in mid-December before these retaliations could be put into place. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) were among the industry groups praising the move.

"America's pork producers are grateful that lawmakers, particularly Chairman Roberts and Chairman Conaway, recognized the economic harm we faced from retaliation because of the WTO-illegal COOL law," NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage said in a statement. "I know tariffs on U.S. pork would have been devastating to me and other pork producers."

Efforts to consider a voluntary COOL were introduced last year.

Consumers weren't as thrilled by the decision. Here are just some of the comments left on an Associated Press report covering the repeal of COOL:

  • "My family's health is more than worth the potential costs."
  • "Oh, less transparency...way to win over consumers..."
  • "I believe that all consumers should be able to know everything about the food they consume, and who actually had a hand in preparing it.

    Come on!

    $1B in retaliation from Canada and Mexico?

    The U.S. can't leverage to stop that?!

  • "This one's easy. If it doesn't say where it's from, I just won't buy it."

However, consumer concern may not represent the whole story. As one beef producer explained here, "COOL did not make you safer. It hurt the beef industry across the board for producers both large and small."