Trade hampered as U.S. cattlemen wait for WTO appeal ruling
Country of origin labeling (COOL) remains an item of contention in the beef industry as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Congress have yet to reach an agreement on the program.
This past year’s National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president Bob McCan sat down with AgriTalk to discuss COOL during the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio in February.
Currently, the U.S. beef industry is waiting an appeals ruling from WTO. McCan says the decision is expected in late spring or early summer.
“When that happens, we will probably have some legislation out of the House and the Senate,” McCan adds.
NCBA has been working with both sides of Congress to educate new members on the issue. Also, the organization has been working with congressional leaders who have wanted to repeal COOL.
“We’re not sure what that legislation is going to look like at this point, but I think it is definitely going to happen,” McCan says. “We can kind of see that light at the end of the tunnel on being able to repeal this law that has really been tough on trade and tough on our producers.”
While proponents of COOL say consumers want to know where their food comes from, some
research proves otherwise. Data from Kansas State University shows consumers were more concerned about the price of beef rather than labels.
“This onerous law has become such an obstacle to trade,” McCan says.
Trade with both Canada and Mexico has been affected. Canada has threatened to place increased tariffs on trade with the U.S., while Mexico has been processing more cattle within the country’s borders.
“I think, for the most part, the majority of serious cattlemen in this country have seen that this law is not helping anybody. It is not putting any more money in any producer’s pockets at all and hasn’t since it was passed,” McCan states.