A resolution supporting the reestablishment of a country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program was introduced Thursday by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). The resolution puts forth a firm statement of support for COOL, which was repealed in 2015.
The United States Cattlemen’s Association supports Tester’s resolution.
“The U.S. produces the highest quality, safest, and most eco-conscious beef in the world. U.S. cattle producers deserve the opportunity to showcase their product in the retail marketplace,” said USCA Director Emeritus Leo McDonnell.
"We’re incredibly grateful for Senator Jon Tester continuing to champion Truth in Labeling efforts through the introduction of this resolution. We ask other Senators to follow his lead and choose to stand with American consumers and ranching families.”
COOL for U.S. beef and pork products was in effect from 2009 to 2015. It was a sticking point with Canada and Mexico as those countries claimed the law violated their trade agreements with the U.S. and put their products at a disadvantage.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed with Canada and Mexico, and approved retaliatory tariffs of as much as $1 billion on U.S. products. COOL was repealed by the U.S. Congress in December, 2015, just days before the WTO-approved tariffs were to take effect.
In June of this year, 27 freshmen House Democrats sent a letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging the resurrection of COOL requirements as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Those 27 House members said a vote on USMCA should not occur until the White House also includes strong enforcement provisions on labor and environment in the trade agreement.
COOL, however, remains a controversial issue. Other trade groups support voluntary COOL, but believe mandatory COOL is too costly and a hindrance to U.S. trade. In an April 2015 report, “Economic Analysis of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL),” USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist supported ideas COOL regulations were costly and ineffective.