The USDA’s  new proposed rule for country of origin labeling (COOL) will just create more problems for the U.S. beef industry, says NCBA President Elect Bob McCan, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. Speaking on NCBA’s “Beltway Beef” audio program, McCan says there is no regulatory fix to bring our COOL rules into compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.

The proposed rule would require labels on muscle cuts of beef and other meats to specify where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, and would remove the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. These provisions, McCan says, will increase costs for processors and retailers which in turn will increase the price of beef for our consumers.

McCan says the rule, as proposed, could lead to serious retaliatory trade measures from Canada and Mexico, our two largest export customers for U.S. beef. Those countries, which filed the complaint with the WTO over COOL, accounted for over $1 billion in U.S. beef exports in 2012.

NCBA believes country of origin labeling should be entirely voluntary, McCan says, adding that Mandatory COOL has been onerous for the industry since it became law in 2009.