September 26, 2016

USDA Ends Country-of-Origin Labeling Enforcement

USDA is no longer going to enforce Country of Origin Labeling requirements (COOL) for beef and pork products because the law was repeated by Congress in the Omnibus Bill. Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary, said that labeling regulations will be amended as soon as possible. The USA has been in a fight with the World Trade Organization for years over this issue. WTO ruled that Canada and Mexico, which opposed the labeling requirements, could impose more than $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. products as punishment for the "harm" the labels were causing producers in those countries. Many consumer groups and agricultural groups were in favor of COOL, believing that consumers have a right to know where the foods they buy come from. A Montana-based cattle trade association called R-CALF USA … [Read more...]

COOL Damages Much Lower Than First Thought

The legal wrangling over country of origin labeling (COOL) took a new turn this week, when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) filed a brief in the World Trade Organization dispute over the issue. The brief states that the $3 billion sought by Mexico and Canada in retaliatory tariffs vastly overestimate damages. The brief recommends that the damage limits be set at $43.22 million for Canada and $47.55 million for Mexico. USTR says that the methods used by the two countries to estimate damage was flawed and "severely overestimates the level of nullification or impairment attributable" to COOL. Food & Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "the WTO has never certified Canada and Mexico's absurdly high claims for damages from the COOL case and is only now considering … [Read more...]

Senators Introduce COOL Labeling Legislation

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have introduced new bipartisan legislation to address country-of-origin labeling (COOL) following the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against the United States in May 2015. The legislation, called the Voluntary County of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015 would comply with that ruling, and would put in place a voluntary label. This label would help consumers know where their food comes from and should confirmed with the WTO's ruling. The labels could say "Product of the U.S." Stabenow said in a statement, "Michigan farmers and ranchers take pride in raising the world's safest and most affordable foods, and parents in Michigan want to know as much as possible about what their kids are eating. If … [Read more...]

CFA Statement on House COOL Vote

Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America released a statement about the house vote on country of origin labeling (COOL). Last week, the House voted to repeal COOL, meaning that labels on meat, pork, and chicken would no longer have to state where the food came from. He said in a statement, "yesterday the House voted to deny American consumers basic information about where their food comes from. In supporting a repeal of country of origin labeling for meat, pork, and chicken, Congress bowed to overblown threats of retaliation from Canada and Mexico and took action prematurely before the case at the WTO was fully settled." The World Trade Organization has repeatedly ruled against the United States on this matter. Canada and Mexico … [Read more...]

WTO Rules Against U.S. on COOL. Again.

The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States appeal on an October 2014 ruling delcaring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in violation of international trade law. U.S. lawmakers want to repeal the legislation. The report issued May 18, 2015 is the fourth and final ruling on COOL. The legislation requires that all livestock from Mexico, Canada, and the United States is separated from birth and identified as to origin on the label. Canada and Mexico are against COOL, saying that it reduces the value of their exports. The ruling lets Canada and Mexico impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods this summer that could reach into the billions of dollars. Supporters of COOL want to work with Congress to make changes with the legislation to bring it into compliance. Most … [Read more...]

USDA Says COOL Doesn’t Benefit Consumers

Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) doesn't provide benefits to consumers, according to the USDA's chief economist. A report from the USDA was sent to Congress last Friday, May 1, 2015. The report was mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill. The report states that "In terms of consumers, USDA's regulatory impact analyses concluded that while there is evidence of consumer interest in COOL information, measurable economic benefits from mandatory COOL would be small. USDA's regulatory impact analyses also found little evidence that consumers are likely to increase their purchased of food items bearing U.S.-origin labels." However, the report did recognize the interest in labeling based on the consumer's right to know what they are purchasing. The World Trade Organization has ruled against the … [Read more...]

Study Finds COOL Labels Haven’t Affected Livestock Exports

Country of origin labeling (COOL) has been a hot topic in the news for months. The United States wants to label meat products with information about where the animals and processed meat come from, but the World Trade Organization (WTO) has stated over and over again that they believe these steps are potentially harmful to other countries. Canada and Mexico filed objections to the labeling, fearing that consumers would not want to buy products from their countries. WTO sided with Canada and Mexico. But a new study from Auburn University shows that COOL laws have not undermined Canada and Mexico's livestock exports to the U.S. Instead, study author Robert Taylor found that COOL was implemented in 2008 just as the severe United States recession ended demand for expensive meats. Wenonah … [Read more...]

Coalition Urges Senators to Reject Changes to COOL

A coalition of food safety and consumer advocates has written a letter to the Senate, urging legislators to "reject any effort to repeat, rescind or weaken country of origin labeling (COOL) in any federal spending legislation." The World Trade Organization (WTO) just ruled against the United States COOL system, saying it was punitive to other countries. Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union said in a statement, "Congress needs to stay the court on COOL and leave it alone, especially now that the Obama administration has appealed the current decision to the WTO. COOL has been embraced by consumers who want to know where their food comes from and by family farmers who are proud to provide that information." COOL was first enacted in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. A … [Read more...]

U.S. Appeals WTO COOL Ruling

The United States has appealed the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on country of origin labeling (COOL) about labeling meat products that are imported. COOL has been in the news for years ever since the program began in the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA released a final rule in May 2013, requiring that meat labels include where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico promptly appealed the rule to the WTO, threatening to retaliate with possible trade tariffs. In 2012, WTO ruled against COOL in April and June, saying that it unfairly discriminates against Mexico and Canada because of record keeping and verification requirements. WTO ruled against COOL for a third time in October 2014. The U.S. appeal is within the 60-day appeal time period. Canadian Ministers Ed … [Read more...]

Coalition Supporting COOL Change Sends Letter to Congress

Last week a U.S. District Court of Appeals refused to rehear the country-of-origin (COOL) labeling dispute between the United States and the World Trade Organization, effectively making COOL the law of the land. After this decision, stakeholders known as COOL Reform Coalition sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to "immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been deemed to be non-compliant with international trade obligations." That coalition is comprised of organizations such as Hormel Foods, ConAgra, Cargill, National Beef Packing Company, Smithfield Foods, Abbott, Anheuser-Busch, Archer Daniels Midland, Nestle USA, Nestle Waters North America, Unilever, Tyson Foods, and the North American Meat Association. They are … [Read more...]

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