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Agricultural News

NCBA President Urges for No Appeal on World Trade Organization Ruling on COOL

Fri, 02 Dec 2011 16:03:38 CST

NCBA President Urges for No Appeal on World Trade Organization Ruling on COOL The following remarks and comments on the WTO ruling regarding country of origin labeling is courtesy of Tom Fields with NCBA.

"National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald penned a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on Nov. 28, 2011, urging him not to appeal the most recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on the country of origin labeling (COOL) case filed by Canada and Mexico. Donald said NCBA has reviewed the WTO report and believes the ruling was based on a solid and thorough analysis of the issue. Rather than allocating time and resources on an appeal, Donald encouraged Ambassador Kirk to find a meaningful and effective way to bring the United States into WTO appliance and avoid jeopardizing two of the most important markets for U.S. beef.

In 2010, Mexican consumers purchased $819 million worth of U.S. beef. Canadian consumers purchased $733 million of beef from the United States. Through September of this year, Mexican consumers purchased nearly $733 million of U.S. beef, which is a 25 percent increase over the same period in 2010. Canadian consumers have already outpaced last year's numbers by purchasing $788 million worth of U.S. beef so far this year.

Donald said the main concern of the oldest and largest national organization representing the U.S. cattle industry is that a failure to comply with the WTO decision will provide Canada and Mexico an opportunity to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Donald worries about far-reaching, unintended consequences that would occur with other U.S. trading partners as well.

"Not making the effort to comply could also undermine our ability to negotiate with other countries by sending the signal that the United States does not have to abide by these decisions," said Donald. "As a cattleman, my reputation for being fair and honest means everything to the success of my operation. If people cannot trust me, they won't do business with me."

He concluded his letter to Ambassador Kirk by stating that the only viable solution is to work with Congress on a statutory fix.

"Administrative changes by the United States Department of Agriculture are not enough to bring us into compliance. Statutory changes that modify red meat labeling under COOL will be the only way to provide compliance, protect our ability to export U.S. beef to Canada and Mexico and provide consumers with a meaningful labeling program."

Ambassador Kirk has until Jan. 18, 2012 to appeal the WTO ruling."



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