The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is asking Congress to support legislation that repeals Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef, pork and chicken.
The legislation, known as H.R. 2393, comes in the wake of a May 18 final ruling by the World Trade Organization that said amended COOL rules accorded less favorable treatment to imported livestock than to U.S. livestock. They also determined that the COOL rules provided an advantage to U.S. livestock farmers due to the extra costs associated with segregating animals.
“Canada has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods if the COOL requirements are not changed. Since we now have a WTO ruling, H.R. 2393 is appropriate legislation to move forward,” Karen Gefvert, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of Governmental Relations, wrote to Wisconsin’s U.S. House delegation.
This legislation passed the House Agriculture Committee at the end of May is awaiting a floor vote in the House. Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble was an early co-sponsor of the bill.
“The Wisconsin Farm Bureau supports a WTO compliant COOL; however, the limited 60 day window for retaliatory tariff determinations makes that unlikely,” Gefvert explained. “We support passage of H.R. 2393, which amends the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to effectively repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork, and chicken, while leaving intact the requirements for all other covered commodities.”
“We respectfully urge you to support H.R. 2393 and act quickly to avoid costly retaliatory tariffs for Wisconsin agricultural products,” Gefvert added.
Retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico could exceed more than $2 billion to U.S. ag exports, and more than $600 million worth of Wisconsin exports, Gefvert noted.
Last year, Canada and Mexico were Wisconsin’s top two export markets, equating to more than $10.7 billion in trade (with $1.9 billion coming from agriculture).