COOL is Hot in the US Senate- Two Approaches Have Been Proposed for RepealFri, 24 Jul 2015 06:10:27 CDT
Cool is one of THE Hot Topics inside the Washington beltway and beyond DC as well. Several developments are in the midst of being played out in the COOL Repeal drama, with the focus on the US Senate.
First of all, there are several Democratic Senators who have been big mandatory COOL fans who have come together- led by former Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow- and have offered a repeal of Mandatory COOL coupled with a mandated Voluntary version of the program. There are three reactions. First, you have groups like the US Cattlemen and the National Farmers Union who love it and say it should be acceptable to Canada and Mexico. Then you have groups like the National Pork Producers and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association who see anything less than a clean COOL Repeal as being unacceptable, which is the stance that apparently Canada and Mexico have taken. That means that the Stabenow plan won't pass muster with our neighbors to either the north or the south. The third reaction belongs to R-Calf and we explain it later in this story.
The Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Mike Conaway of Texas, is also in the camp of saying only a clean repeal is acceptable. However, he made a public promise via a statement released to the public that he would do everything he could to help Senator Stabenow get a voluntary version of COOL after (and only after) a clean repeal of COOL is passed by the Senate. Conaway says "If the Senate acts in a responsible manner by passing a clean repeal before recessing, I will commit to working in a bipartisan manner to try and craft a purely voluntary program that is both trade compliant and does not interfere, intentionally or not, with existing labeling programs. But, the responsible action of repeal must come first."
His complete statement is available here.
Now back to the Senate- you have the Chairman of the Senate Ag Committe, Pat Roberts of Kansas, taking the clean repeal route as he has offered an amendment to the Transportation Bill that would repeal COOL for beef, pork and poultry. Details of that are available here.
One additional group that is simply mad about any option that eliminates mandatory COOL is R-Calf USA. Their Executive Director Bill Bullard has issued a plea to their members to oppose the Roberts Amendment and pull out all stops in their efforts to contact their Senators and urge a rejection of that amendment to the Transportation Bill. Bullard wrote in his email "Please begin calling your Senators to urge them to vote "NO" on the Roberts amendment to the Transportation Bill that would repeal COOL for beef, pork and chicken and ground meat. Also urge them to vote "NO" on any other amendment that would convert COOL to a voluntary program.
"We are far better off to fight to the end for mandatory COOL than to jump ship and pretend that voluntary COOL will serve the interests of consumers or producers." R-Calf is also unhappy with the Stabenow proposal- saying nothing should be done by Congress until a dollar amount of damages has been announced by the WTO- we have more details of their general unhappiness on the movement in the Senate- available here.
On Thursday afternoon, as all of these COOL developments were playing out, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays sat down and talked with Kristina Butts of the Washington office of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Butts is attending and taking part in the 63rd annual Convention of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association in Midwest City. You can hear the part of their conversation that offers a give and take on COOL Repeal.
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