Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much, but this week senators from both parties co-sponsored legislation to bring back Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) for beef.
United States Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune, both Republicans from South Dakota, and Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, announced on Wednesday a bipartisan bill that would reinstate mandatory COOL.
The American Beef Labeling Act would compel the U.S. Trade Representative to develop a World Trade Organization-compliant version of COOL within six months, followed by a six-month window to implement it.
In December 2015, Congress repealed COOL for beef and pork after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the law violated U.S. trade obligations and discriminated against Canadian and Mexican animals shipped to the U.S. for feeding and processing. WTO had approved those nations’ proposal to impose over $1 billion in tariffs against the U.S.
Farmers who support COOL complain that cattle from Canada and Mexico are taking up hook space in packing plants, resulting in lower prices for their cattle.
They say that beef products carrying a “Product of the USA” should only come from cattle born, raised and processed in the U.S.
Current regulations allow any beef processed in an American plant to be labelled Product of USA. The same protocol exists in Canada for U.S. cattle slaughtered in a Canadian plant to be labelled Product of Canada.