WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) law moved closer to repeal following the announcement that language repealing COOL was added to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, or the omnibus.

The World Trade Organization ruled against U.S. COOL policy, and authorized Canada and Mexico to impose retaliatory tariffs of $1 billion. Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he hoped the Senate could pass the bill in time to prevent retaliation by Canada and Mexico.

“For several years now, the writing has been on the wall that U.S. COOL requirements for meat were doomed at the WTO,” Roberts said in a statement. “Since its inception, I have warned that retaliation was coming, and I’m pleased American agriculture and businesses will escape these tariffs.

“I have actively opposed COOL from the beginning, in large part due to these very trade ramifications, offering legislation to repeal the damaging law,” he added. “House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway swiftly led the House to approve repeal, and now I hope the Senate can pass this legislation in time to avoid devastating tariffs. With passage, American farmers, ranchers and small businesses will finally get the certainty they deserve from unnecessary trade retaliation.”

In June, the US House of Representatives voted 300 to 131 in favor of repealing COOL.
Rep. K. Michael Conaway said he was pleased to see language repealing COOL added to the omnibus bill, and thanked Roberts for pushing the language through.

“By including this language, we will be back in compliance with our WTO obligations, avoid more than $1 billion in retaliation from Canada and Mexico, and prevent damages to our relationships with two of our top trade partners,” Conaway said in a statement.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has urged Congress to repeal the noncompliant provisions of COOL and to honor international trade obligations.
“Congress must act to fix COOL now,” said Ohio farmer John Linder, chair of NCGA’s Trade and Biotechnology Action Team. “Canada and Mexico represent two of our largest trading partners. Noncompliance threatens our market share and has serious ramifications for the entire food supply chain and the rural economy. America’s farmers and ranchers cannot afford to wait any longer. We urge Congress to bring the U.S. into compliance.”