Congress to Repeal Meat-Label Rules to Stop $1 Billion Penalty

December 15, 2015 01:25 PM
Congress to Repeal Meat-Label Rules to Stop $1 Billion Penalty

Congressional negotiators crafting a spending plan have agreed to a provision that would repeal country-of-origin labeling requirements for U.S. meat, an attempt to stave off $1 billion in Canadian and Mexican retaliation against American goods.

“I fully expect that it is in the omnibus. We have to get this done,” Senator Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Tuesday. Language rolling back the labeling, known by the acronym COOL, isn’t final but would be part of a must-pass spending bill needed to keep the federal government operating.

Stabenow, who this summer proposed a voluntary program to replace the mandatory labels that rankled Mexico and Canada, didn’t specify the extent of the rollback. The House of Representatives in June approved a full repeal of the labels for pork, meat and chicken products.

The provisions are likely to be folded into an omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government and a separate tax package. Congressional leaders are on track to release the text of those bills late Tuesday, setting up votes in the House and Senate as soon as Thursday.

The WTO earlier this month gave Canada authority to seek approval for $780.9 million in retaliatory tariffs and Mexico $227.8 million across a wide range of industries, about a third of what the two nations sought. U.S. meatpackers including Tyson Foods Inc. have long sought a repeal, saying it needlessly complicates supply chains. Some rancher groups and consumer advocates have said the labels help consumers make better purchasing decisions.


American Beef

Losing access to markets in Canada and Mexico would cost American beef producers 10 cents a pound immediately, according to the U.S.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Removing the label requirement would open the U.S. market for Canadian cattle producers, and U.S. meat plants will probably start accepting animals from Canada again, Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said in an interview before the language was released.

“We went from every plant in the U.S. being willing to take the cattle to just a little more than a handful,” Laycraft said. “Our herd got smaller than it would have if COOL had not been in effect.”

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Spell Check

Cascade, WI
12/15/2015 07:25 PM

  "According to NCBA we are gonna lose 10 cents per 100" My thoughts are how much are we gonna lose to the american buyer that wants to know where their food comes from???

Kearney, NE
12/16/2015 06:53 AM

  Repeal of COOL goes totally against the trend of consumers wanting to know the source of their food. NCBA and Farm Bureau do not speak for me, nor for the majority of Ag producers. It's a shame that both have the "ear" of Congress. Our beef exports to both Canada and Mexico this year are way down, while our imports from them are way up. I am certain than NCBA and Farm Bureau are pushing for our appeal to the WTO for the obvious unfair trade practices that are causing this,..... Any producer who believes that we can have a "North American Beef industry" without first having North American currency is simply cutting their own throats. Currency manipulation is the number one trade distorting policy employed by countries.

Verona, ND
12/15/2015 11:20 PM

  I would gladly take the 10 cents a pound discount compared to the 70 cent ass kicking we have just taken because of too much imported beef, can't we have a happy medium here!! Oh and by the way NCBA don't speak for me because you aren't for the producer.....


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