Late Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Conaway/Costa bill (HR 2393) to repeal Country of Origin Labeling for beef, pork and chicken. The bill passed with a strong bi-partisan vote of 300 to 131. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Chugwater, Wyoming, cattleman Philip Ellis said this strong action by the House sends a clear signal that this is a failed program.
“COOL has been without benefit to the U.S. cattle industry and producers like myself,” said Ellis. “And now with retaliation eminent from our largest trading partners, it is time this legislation is repealed. There is no other fix that can be put in place to bring value to this program or satisfy our trading partners.”
Canada and Mexico have announced they will seek $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs, raising prices for U.S. beef, pork, ethanol, wine and a host of other products.
“It is imperative that the Senate act quickly to pass this legislation,” said Ellis. “The governments of Canada and Mexico have been very clear that they fully intend to retaliate to the fullest extent allowed by the WTO and the only step before that happens is to determine the actual amount. Retaliation will be in the billions, and our economy cannot afford that hit.”
The USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that each dollar of agricultural exports stimulates another $1.22 in business activity and that every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports requires 7,580 American jobs throughout the economy.
“COOL retaliation will have a major impact on our economy and our trading relationships, now and into the future,” said Ellis. “Cattlemen and women support consumers in the information they seek, we are open and transparent, and we can do that without costly and trade distorting rules. We support voluntary labeling efforts that provide consumers with information they want and benefit cattle producers who can provide that information.”