Group brings COOL concerns to Congress

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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WASHINGTON – On March 25, business and agricultural leaders from the COOL (Country-of-Origin Labeling) Reform Coalition testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture warning of the negative effects of World Trade Organization (WTO) non-compliance on COOL for meat muscle cuts. The coalition includes more than 100 associations and companies that represent US food, agriculture and manufacturing industries to advocate for US compliance with WTO COOL obligations

If the United States is judged to be non-compliant in a final WTO determination on whether US COOL requirements are in compliance with international trade obligations possibly in May. Canada and Mexico could implement billions of dollars' worth of retaliatory tariffs on US food, agricultural and manufactured goods.

"Canada and Mexico are by far the US’ largest export markets, and purchased a record $485 billion in manufactured goods in 2014," said Linda Dempsey of the National Association of Manufacturers. "WTO-authorized retaliation by two of the largest US trading partners could result in very substantial tariffs affecting multiple sectors of the US economy, threatening the livelihoods of American families."

Damage to exports will be felt throughout the US economy and will far exceed the final retaliation amount that the WTO authorizes. What’s more, thousands of American jobs are at risk. A $2 billion retaliation could cost the US economy 17,000 jobs, according to Professor Dermot Hayes of Iowa State Univ.

"The only way to avert costly retaliation is for Congress to approve legislation repealing the COOL rule for muscle cuts of meat," said Christopher Wenk of the US Chamber of Commerce. "Failure to act on COOL could cost tens of thousands of American jobs and jeopardize mutually beneficial trade relationships with our two closest neighbors and largest export markets."

Products likely to be targeted by Canada and Mexico, as well as the potential economic impact for each state, can be found on an interactive map at COOLReform.com.

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