NCBA Moves Against COOL Rule with Two-Pronged ApproachMon, 12 Aug 2013 17:14:58 CDT
At the recent Summer Beef Industry Conference in Denver, Collin Woodall, vice president for governmental affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, presented a briefing on the state of the NCBA’s efforts to rule back implementation of the USDA’s Country Of Origin Labeling rule.
The final COOL was put into place in May, and was an attempt to satisfy the World Trade Organization, Woodall said. It requires a three-tiered label which lists where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The USDA is moving forward with forcing producers to implement the rule, even though action is still pending before the WTO court.
“We do not like that because the WTO has not finished all their work on the case. We know that this new label is going to cost more in investment from the industry in order to comply. We do expect the WTO to throw this particular rule out. So, we’re lining ourselves up to have all this investment on a rule that will eventually be pitched out. That’s just a waste of money, so that’s why we’re working twofold: one is through the farm bill to try to get a fix in that process, and we are also seeking a preliminary injunction through the legal system in or to stop further implementation of the May COOL rule.”
Woodall said that Canada and Mexico have both been successful in convincing the WTO that the United States’ COOL rule violates trade agreements, but it will take the WTO another year to affirm that judgment with the determination of appropriate sanctions to be applied.
The NCBA believes the best fix would come from Congress via a conference committee convened to reconcile a 2013 farm bill, Woodall said. The NCBA would like to see a full repeal of COOL as it applies to red meat and poultry.
“The reason why is we now have five years of data that shows that mandatory COOL--a government COOL--does not work. The consumers are not responding. It’s really not a high priority for them. It’s costing our industry money. And whenever you add costs to our industry, some of that goes down to the consumer, but most of that is passed down to the producer. And, right now, that’s costing our industry and that’s something that’s unacceptable for providing no benefit.”
Woodall said that action could happen rather quickly in a conference committee this fall should the farm bill make that far.
On the litigation side, Woodall said the oral arguments are set for August 27th in the NCBA’s request for an injunction preventing further implementation of COOL. He said an answer could be expected sometime in early September. If the injunction is granted, the USDA would have to stop all implementation of the new COOL rule. The court would then be able to examine and rule on the Constitutionality of the rule itself.
You can hear the full conversation between Ron Hays and Colin Woodall by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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