American mandatory country-of-origin labeling rides again


Four U.S. senators are attempting to answer the call to fix “broken” cattle markets in the country, with new legislation to restore mandatory country of origin labelling.

Greg Henderson of Drover’s says he’s not entirely sure how it’s going to work, as mCOOL, as it is called, was eliminated after a lengthy World Trade Organization challenge. The outcome of that means that Canada and Mexico can install retaliatory measures of a billion dollars against the U.S if it implements the regulation again.

John Thune, Republican senator from South Dakota, introduced the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 on September 13, 2021.

The bill is co-sponsored by  Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Thune says that the bill gives the U.S. Trade Representative six months to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to come up with a WTP-compliant country of origin label. Then, the legislation sets out another six months for the U.S. government to implement the regulation.

If the government can’t design and implement a WTO-compliant regulation in 12-months time, Thune says, mandatory COOL kicks in, and they’ll “fight it out at the World Trade Organization.”

Thune believes that having the USTR write the rules, as opposed to as part of the Farm Bill or written by congress, the rule has the best chance of being WTO compliant. He says that this law will support demand for beef from cows born, raised, and harvested in the U.S. and that, in turn, will support prices for American ranchers.

The last time the U.S. brought in country-of-origin labelling, it sparked a 13-year fight over its legality under WTO rules, and resulted in Canada being allowed to implement $1.055 billion per year in retaliatory tariffs against the States. That version of mCOOL was repealed in December, 2015.

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