Labelling law rears its head again, but officials don’t expect its return
Some American ranchers are ‘making a lot of noise’ but odds of a return to COOL seem slim
By Jennifer Blair, Manitoba Co-operator (Canada)
July 14, 2021
Glacier FarmMedia – Mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) is gone, but there’s a new effort by American beef producers wanting to bring it back.
“It’s still hugely on our radar,” said Alberta Beef Producers chair Melanie Wowk. “When COOL was first instituted in 2003, it was costing us about $600 million a year, so I think you could say it strikes fear into the producers... ”
But six years ago, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled it was discriminatory and said Canada could impose retaliatory tariffs of $1.1 billion if the U.S. continued to demand mandatory country-of-origin labelling for beef and pork. Washington then repealed its labelling law, a move hailed by larger U.S. cattle organizations such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which said it hurt ranchers on both sides of the border.
But the fight rages on, with groups like R-CALF USA trying to bring back COOL, an effort that got some mild encouragement from Tom Vilsack when he was confirmed as U.S. agriculture secretary.
“I am absolutely willing to listen to anybody and everybody who’s got an idea about how we can circumvent or get to a point where the WTO doesn’t necessarily slap it down, creating retaliatory impacts on American agriculture,” said Vilsack, who held the same post in former president Barack Obama’s administration...
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