Last month, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body ruled against the United States’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat for the fourth and final time. COOL is really not cool because it has caused the U.S. to be non-compliant with our international trade obligations. If it’s not repealed we will have to pay more for things like meat, wine, and chocolate! Yeah, #notcool.
Five reasons why:
1. COOL is costly for producers, retailers, and consumers.
According to the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS), the first year-incremental costs for growers, producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers are $2.6 billion. Furthermore, the estimated cost to the United States’ economy in higher food prices and reduced food production in the tenth year after implementation of the rule is $211.9 million.
2. The U.S. will lose its reputation as a reliable trade partner.
Within five months of COOL’s 2009 implementation, Canada and Mexico challenged COOL at the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that it had a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market. The WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico four times. Therefore, U.S. business will lose valuable partnerships with Canadian and Mexican businesses.
3. Canada and Mexico will seek well over $3 billion annually in retaliatory sanctions against U.S. exports.
Because the U.S. has been found non-compliant with its international trade obligations due to COOL, Canada and Mexico will seek retaliation on a vast range of U.S. products such as meat, wine, chocolate and even furniture. This will be needlessly destructive to our overall economy and hurt nearly every industry, every state and every consumer.
4. Consumers interested in COOL are not willing to pay more for it.
Most consumers who preferred COOL in a consumer study interpreted the program to provide them with additional food safety assurances and enough traceability information to allow a meat product to be completely traced back to the farm of origin. Mandatory COOL is no more than a food-labeling program and only allows identification of a meat product’s country of origin by stage of production. Across a multitude of evaluations, no evidence of a change in demand following implementation of COOL was found.
5. Most consumers do not even know the label exists.
Let’s just go ahead and say this just is not cool. One small label that most consumers do not even notice when shopping at the meat counter will have a huge impact on the United States’ economy and international presence. Can you even see it below? Our point exactly.
Learn more about what COOL means for you at the House Committee on Agriculture.