House repeals COOL |

House repeals COOL

Maria Tussing
Assistant Editor

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 300 to 131 to repeal Country of Origin Labeling for beef, pork and chicken last week.

The issue has divided the cattle industry for years, and reactions were consistent with the industry organizations' previous stances.

R-CALF CEO, Bill Bullard said in a statement, "As expected, the GOP-led House railroaded our nation's widely popular and critically important COOL law with a special rule that ensured insufficient time for reasonable minds to correct the profound misstatements and gross exaggerations made against COOL by the meatpacker-controlled zealots in the House."

The legislation repealing COOL was introduced because of the threat of up $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico against the U.S., following a World Trade Organization ruling that COOL discriminated against Canada and Mexico and created unfair trade barriers.

In a statement by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Philip Ellis, president said, "COOL has been without benefit to the U.S. cattle industry and producers like myself," said Ellis. "And now with retaliation eminent from our largest trading partners, it is time this legislation is repealed. There is no other fix that can be put in place to bring value to this program or satisfy our trading partners."

The bill will now move on to the Senate, where it originated in the late 1990s.

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"We couldn't be more disappointed with the House and we will now turn to the Senate in an attempt to reverse the damage the House has done to our very important COOL law," Bullard said.

"Consumers need COOL to distinguish meat that is produced exclusively by U.S. farmers and ranchers from meat that is produced in whole or in part under some other countries' food production and food safety systems. United States farmers and ranchers need COOL so competition, and not corporate market power, dictates where meatpackers will source their livestock to meet consumer demand."

"It is imperative that the Senate act quickly to pass this legislation," said Ellis. "The governments of Canada and Mexico have been very clear that they fully intend to retaliate to the fullest extent allowed by the WTO and the only step before that happens is to determine the actual amount. Retaliation will be in the billions, and our economy cannot afford that hit."