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Agricultural News

Battle Over COOL Underway in U.S. Senate: Repeal vs. Voluntary Labeling Approach

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:11:36 CDT

Battle Over COOL Underway in U.S. Senate:  Repeal vs. Voluntary Labeling Approach

Efforts to fix the nation's Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law is growing more urgent. The cattle industry awaits to hear from the World Trade Organization over the retaliation levels allowed by Canada and Mexico against U.S. products. The urgency also continues to ramp up in Congress. Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives voted to repeal COOL, now the Senate is grappling with the topic.

A bill introduced in the Senate on Thursday would change COOL meat labeling from mandatory to voluntary. Former Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow introduced the legislation. Stabenow says the Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 would comply with the WTO ruling by removing certain meat products from the mandatory labeling program. Speaking at the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Convention Thursday, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said NCBA disagrees with Stabenow's voluntary approach.

"We're actually opposing her legislation, which we don't think addresses the concerns from Canada and Mexico and what they've raised in the WTO situation, which for four times now the WTO has ruled against the United States," Butts said.

NCBA is working closely with Senate Agriculture chair Pat Roberts, as he has introduced an amendment in the Highway Bill to repeal COOL. Butts said repeal of COOL is needed before retaliation kicks in from Canada and Mexico. She said the U.S. Department of Agriculture had estimated retaliation could total $8 billion dollars. This covers a wide variety of products from beef to specialty crops, biofuels, wine, office equipment and manufacturing. Butts said retaliation is here and upon us.

If Mexico and Canada put big tariffs on U.S. beef, CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good says that impact will trickle down to U.S. beef producers. He said the U.S. ships about two and half pounds of beef per capita to both countries combined.

"That's roughly 800 million pounds, so if we can't put into those two countries because it becomes too expensive because of tariffs, we'll have to consume more of that product at home and how do you consume more product, typically at lower levels," Good said.

Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays featured Kristina Butts of NCBA and Kevin Good of CattleFax on the Beef Buzz feature. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to today's Beef Buzz.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

Ron Hays Beef Buzzes with Kristina Butts of NCBA and Kevin Good of CattleFax
right-click to download mp3


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