USDA suspends country-of-origin label (COOL) requirement

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 64 views 

The federal government has suspended the labeling requirements under the country-of-origin label (COOL) rules for meat imports according to recent announcement from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“The omnibus bill repealed the country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cuts of beef and pork, and ground beef and pork. Effective immediately, USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground beef and pork outlined in the January 2009 and May 2013 final rules,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday (Dec. 18.)

The move comes on the heels of World Trade Organization’s ruling that allows for $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs related to federal product labeling rules.

Visack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will amend COOL regulations as soon as possible to reflect the repeal of the beef and pork provisions.

The meat packing industry applauded this move.

“We are enormously grateful that lawmakers have included language in the Omnibus bill to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling for certain meat products. Our elected leaders recognize the need for the United States to live up to its international trade obligations,” said Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “They also know that failing to repeal the provisions that triggered a protracted World Trade Organization (WTO) battle between the U.S. and its two most important trading partners, Canada and Mexico, has invited more than $1 billion in painful retaliatory tariffs. This Congressional action is an important step in avoiding the financial harm the industry will incur once Canada and Mexico initiate the tariffs sanctioned by the WTO’s ruling earlier this month.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Philip Ellis said the recently passed Omnibus bill contained several victories for the cattle industry.

“COOL has plagued our industry for many years now, costing us millions and driving us to the brink of retaliation from two of our largest trading partners,” said Ellis. “Cattle producers have had to bear the cost of this failed program for far too long,”

Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat packers in the country, supported a repeal of the COOL regulation saying recently that the labeling law “increased the U.S. meat industry’s operating costs, unnecessarily hurting livestock producers without providing any additional value to our customers and consumers.”

The Springdale-based meat giant did not respond to a request for further comment Monday (Dec. 21).