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Congress Repeals COOL

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

(North American Meat Institute)

The U.S. Congress last week passed an omnibus spending bill that included a provision repealing mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork muscle cuts and ground beef and pork products, thereby avoiding more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico authorized earlier this month by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In a statement, NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter praised Congress for including COOL repeal language in the bill and said, “The marketplace, with consumers as the drivers, should determine what labeling is meaningful and should appear on meat products—not protectionists who fear free and unfettered trade.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA will no longer enforce COOL requirements for beef and pork products outlined in the January 2009 and May 2013 final rules effective immediately. Vilsack indicated the COOL regulations will be amended “as expeditiously as possible” to remove the beef and pork provisions from the labeling requirements.

In May, the WTO ruled for a fourth and final time that COOL violates the United States’ international trade obligations and illegally discriminates against imported livestock from Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico consistently stated that full COOL repeal represented the only solution for the U.S. to stave off the proposed retaliatory measures.

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