Canadian Election Presents New Opportunity to Preserve Mandatory COOL

October 21, 2015

United States President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

United States Secretary of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, DC 20250

The Honorable Michael Froman

U.S. Trade Representative

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

Re: Canadian Election Presents New Opportunity to Preserve Mandatory COOL

Dear President Obama, Secretary Vilsack, and Ambassador Froman:

On behalf of the thousands of cattle-producing members of R-CALF USA1 – the largest

producer-only cattle trade association in the United States – I urge you to expeditiously

formulate and offer a plan to newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that would

resolve his country’s ongoing dispute over our mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL)

law. Canada’s election affords the United States with a new and unique opportunity to amicably

resolve Canada’s dispute in a manner that preserves mandatory COOL for U.S. livestock

producers and U.S. consumers.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada’s long-serving

Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, was so vehemently opposed to our mandatory COOL law that

he repeatedly and appallingly threatened U.S. industries with financial sanctions. He did this

long before Canada even bothered to seek permission from the World Trade Organization

(WTO) to institute retaliatory actions.

It is quite likely that newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau will not be as fanatical as

were Prime Minister Harper and Agriculture Minister Ritz. In fact, it is entirely possible that

Prime Minister Trudeau’s administration will not be fanatical at all and will instead be receptive

to resolving the mandatory COOL matter in a way that respects the need of U.S. farmers and

ranchers to distinguish their beef products in the marketplace and the desire of U.S. consumers to

be accurately informed as to the country-of-origins or origins of their beef, pork and chicken.

You may be aware that R-CALF USA members expended tens of thousands of dollars to

assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in defending our mandatory COOL law

against the 2013 legal attack mounted by Canadian livestock organizations, among others. Their

lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and subsequently

appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The government of

Canada joined in this case as an amici and essentially reiterated the same arguments in our U.S.

appellate court that they were then making before the WTO tribunal: mainly that mandatory

COOL was burdensome on Canada because it necessitated segregation and Congress did not

intend to empower consumers to use mandatory COOL for food safety purposes.

The Canadians lost that case and the constitutionality and lawfulness of our U.S.

mandatory COOL law were conclusively upheld by our second-highest court in our land. It

would be shameful, if not outright treacherous, for the United States to do nothing while

unelected and unappointed panels of international jurists – including the blatantly conflicted

Mexican-national jurist whose country to which he was a loyal citizen was a party to the

complaint – empower the governments of Canada and Mexico to undermine, negate and

otherwise overturn the decision by our U.S. Constitution-based court system.

Even if the United States is incapable or unwilling at this time to address the serious

erosion of our nation’s sovereignty implicit in allowing the WTO to circuitously dismantle

important, U.S. Constitution-based laws, that does not in any way impinge the obligation of this

Administration to do everything else possible to defend and preserve for the citizens of the

United States such an important domestic law as mandatory COOL.

Numerous polls and surveys show that mandatory COOL is widely popular among U.S.

consumers. Domestic livestock producers need mandatory COOL now more than ever given that

your Administration is attempting to invite more and more fresh meat imports into the United

States by lowering domestic tariffs on imported meat as proposed in the Trans-Pacific

Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP), and by relaxing longstanding U.S. animal health

standards for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affected countries like Argentina, Brazil and


There are numerous, if not unlimited, country-to-country matters between the United

States and Canada that could be used to amicably persuade newly elected Prime Minister

Trudeau to cease Canada’s saber-rattling against mandatory COOL. Further, the United States

could use its inherently greater economic and political negotiating leverage to convince Canada

that it is in its best interest to end its tirade over our U.S. mandatory COOL law, if Prime

Minister Trudeau, like his predecessors, remains unreasonably defiant against our very

reasonable mandatory COOL law.

Time is of the essence regarding this request as reports indicate the WTO could empower

Canada to retaliate against U.S.-based industries as a means of compelling Congress to repeal or

weaken mandatory COOL sometime after November 27, 2015. Interestingly, this barbaric WTO sanctioned

method of achieving political ends would, in virtually all other circles, be defined as

unlawful extortion or blackmail.

To be clear, R-CALF USA strongly opposes any concession that would repeal the current

mandatory COOL law or weaken it in any way, such as by converting it to an ineffectual

voluntary program. Instead, we believe the law must remain unchanged for now so that, in a

more favorable Congress, it can be amended to include more meat items under the law’s

jurisdiction, a change that would actually redress one of the chief criticisms leveled against the

law by the WTO.

I have purposely refrained from providing a list of specific issues or matters available to

your Administration with which to persuade Prime Minister Trudeau to achieve a beneficial

concession for his country in return for supporting the right of U.S. livestock producers and U.S.

consumers to preserve, in its entirety, their hard-fought mandatory country-of-origin labeling

law. However, I would be pleased to share with you a list of such items, as well as to bring other

agricultural leaders and consumer leaders to a meeting with any or all of you to help formulate

an effective plan to preserve mandatory COOL.

Please let me know how R-CALF USA can be of further help in this urgent matter.


Bill Bullard, CEO

Cc: Select Members of Congress

Select U.S. Presidential Candidates