Members of a diverse coalition representing family farmers and ranchers and consumer and trade groups met with officials of the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative to urge the administration to stand strong to protect Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).
“As we await the World Trade Organization (WTO) process, which can be lengthy, we urge the White House to remain committed to its support of COOL,” said Roger Johnson, president of National Farmers Union. “Ranchers are proud of the products they produce, and consumers overwhelmingly support COOL,” he noted.
During the meeting, Johnson reminded the officials of a recent Auburn University study that clearly demonstrated that an economic downturn, not COOL, caused decreased demand for cattle imports into to the U.S.
“COOL did not cause the declines in livestock exports to the United States, which largely coincided with a substantial global economic downturn that sapped demand for more expensive meat products,” notes the study, authored by C. Robert Taylor, Ph.D, an Alfa Eminent Scholar and professor at Auburn University.
Both Mexico and Canada have been challenging COOL provisions at the WTO since 2008, alleging the widely popular labeling law was a trade barrier that compromised the countries’ export opportunities and market access to the United States for live cattle and hogs. The cost of implementing COOL, they argued, discouraged U.S. meatpacking and processing companies from purchasing livestock of non-U.S. origin and, as a result, reduced the prices of these livestock exports.
Johnson reminded the officials that cattle exports to the U.S. are subject to a number of variables that are completely independent of the implementation of COOL. “Because of this reason, combined with the fact that the public clearly wants to know where its food comes from should underscore the need to keep COOL in place,” said Johnson.
“America needs to stay the course on COOL,” he said.