As farmers anticipate the ratification of the new NAFTA deal, USMCA, Democrats in the U.S. are seeking changes to the new pact text. Jon Tester (D-MT) has gone back in time to suggest a change that would greatly impact the beef industry in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Tester is asking for the Republican-led Senate to re-consider mandatory country of origin labelling (mCOOL) to “protect” U.S. beef producers.
Tester’s resolution is supported by some U.S. beef groups, such as R-CALF and the United States Cattlemen’s Association, but not the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
After several years of World Trade Organization fights, the U.S. finally repealed mCool in December of 2015 after the WTO ruled again in favour of Mexico and Canada, granting the two countries the ability to apply $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods.
From a Canadian point of view, Bob Lowe, vice-president, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says, “any return to mandatory country of origin labelling would be detrimental to the North American beef industry. Upon CCA’s recommendation, Canada retained the right to retaliation should there be a resurgence of mCOOL and we would encourage the Government of Canada to do so if required. However it is without a doubt that we have more to work on together than apart, we are each other’s biggest allies and customers.”
“There is no doubt that the protectionist basis of mCOOL falls in line with some of U.S. President Trump’s trade policy, but so far he has not engaged on the issue — at least publicly,” says RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney.
Tester’s home state of Montana is the base of R-CALF, a group that has never given up on supporting for the re-introduction of mandatory country of origin labelling.