Congress sacrifices meat labels

The Senate today gave final congressional approval to an annual appropriations bill. A provision of the bill repeals the U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. The repeal is a response to the World Trade Organization (WTO) decision authorizing Canada and Mexico to seek up to $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs because the meat labeling law, according to the WTO, violates international trade agreements.

Statement on repeal of COOL by Mabel Dobbs, a rancher from Weiser, Idaho, on behalf of WORC

“Americans need to know that the U.S. Congress has gutted an important consumer protection law under pressure from bad trade deals and big meatpacking companies.

“The World Trade Organization ruling that COOL violates trade agreements was a blow to consumers and ranchers, but it only applied to muscle cuts of beef and pork. By repealing COOL for ground beef and pork, Congress has gone much further than needed to comply with the WTO decision.

“This dirty deal is Congress at its worst. By rolling COOL repeal into the huge annual federal government funding bill, Congress has negotiated a deal behind closed doors that will not be directly voted on.

“Congress has abandoned U.S. farmers, ranchers and consumers. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a wake-up call to all Americans, especially with Congress due to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership next year. TTP contains provisions similar to past trade agreements that the WTO used to rule against COOL. The case against the TPP just got stronger.”