NOBULL: Farm bill negotiators to take up COOL repeal

Farm bill negotiators to take up COOL repeal

By Meatingplace Editors on 11/4/2013

A House-Senate conference committee will look at a repeal of the country of origin labeling (COOL) rule as members work to draft a final version of the U.S. farm bill, Reuters reported.

Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he would support a House provision under development that is expected to be a repeal clause for COOL, according to the article.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was quoted as saying COOL "clearly is one of the issues" on the farm bill agenda.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) expressed concern that country of origin labeling rules could lead to retaliation from U.S. trading partners.

“I am hopeful that working together we can prevent the imposition of tariffs on a wide array of products important to many states,” Lucas said in remarks prepared for the committee’s opening session this week.

Tyson Foods last week said it has stopped buying Canadian cattle for shipment to its U.S. beef plants, saying COOL significantly increases costs, and the company does not have enough warehouse space to accommodate additional products required due to different types of labels.

Canada has asked the World Trade Organization to review COOL, which the country says has hurt Canadian cattle and hog farmers.

Groups representing the U.S., Canadian and Mexican meat and livestock industries are seeking a preliminary injunction to block USDA from implementing the rule, which was finalized in May and requires information on the source of meat to be included on package labels.

Consumer and farm groups supporting COOL, including the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and National Farmers Union, on Wednesday sent a letter to farm bill conferees urging them to ignore calls for changing the law.