Ranchers side with WTO against COOL label law

Colin Woodall, VP of Government Affairs
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

WASHINGTON – The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on Nov. 18, 2011, that  it has ruled in support of complaints by Canada and Mexico that U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) violates global trade rules and unjustly harms agricultural commerce. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall issued the following statement.

“This is a strong ruling from the World Trade Organization that proves COOL was not only a disservice to U.S. cattlemen and women but also contained far-reaching implications for two of the most important trade partners for U.S. agriculture. NCBA strongly advises the United States not to appeal this ruling. Instead, we urge U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with NCBA and other pro-trade organizations to apply pressure on Congress to bring the United States into WTO compliance across the board. We must act quickly before U.S. farmers and ranchers once again face unnecessary and unfortunate retaliatory tariffs on their products.

“This ruling solidifies our concerns that COOL would have extensive trade implications as NCBA expressed during 2008 Farm Bill deliberations. U.S. livestock producers have yet to see any financial benefit from COOL provisions. In many cases, ranchers who feed imported cattle have incurred significant discounts, which have not been offset by benefits proponents of COOL claimed would be available. Just as importantly, cattlemen have yet to discern any positive reaction from consumers regarding mandatory origin labeling.

“We look forward to working closely with Ambassador Kirk and members of Congress to ensure cattlemen are not put in a position to lose access to two very valuable global markets. An appeal is not the answer. Bringing the United States into compliance is the answer.”

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