The House Committee on Agriculture this week voted to approve a measure that would repeal the mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) program for beef, pork, and chicken products.This comes on the heels of a ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday that determined that the U.S. labeling program violated WTO rules and violated international trade obligations with some of our most important trade partners — Canada and Mexico.

Retaliatory tariffs from both countries on U.S. agriculture exports are looming if COOL remains intact as it written today.  House Ag Committee Chairman Conaway (R-TX) is leading the effort to avoid these punitive costs to American agriculture.   Tariffs which will be imposed by Canada alone are reportedly estimated at nearly $2 billion annually.

“The U.S. chicken industry is a proponent of free and open trade.  While we cannot speak on behalf of Canada and Mexico as to why they limited their WTO appeal on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to pork and beef, we are keenly aware that chicken was near the top of the list for retaliation by both countries.  NCC supports legislative action that will allow U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to meat and poultry to be compliant with our international trade obligations,”  NCC President Mike Brown said.

The COOL repeal bill was passed in the House Committee on Agriculture by a vote of 38 to 6.  The committee is hoping to take this bill up on the House floor in early June.