Will Trump decide that COOL is ‘best for America’?

By Dan Flynn | November 22, 2016

As a surrogate speaker this past August for then-candidate Donald J. Trump, former Ohio Republican Congressman Bob McEwen gave a fiery speech to a gathering of independent activist cattlemen from 18 states gathered at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, WY.

He passionately argued for property rights and small business, picking up bursts of applause as he went.


During a question-and-answer session at the end, McEwen said he wanted more information on why Congress ended the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law after it failed to pass muster with the World Trade Organization.

Congress killed the program after WTO found it to be a non-tariff barrier to free trade and granted Canada and Mexico permission to impose tariffs on U.S. products as punishment.

While President-elect Trump’s various transition groups plan the first 100 days of the new administration, reports have emerged that COOL might be brought back to life in a potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Were that to happen, it would be a major score for those independent activist cattlemen, particularly for the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, or R-CALF USA , which was one of the earliest supporters of COOL.

But while COOL might well fit the incoming president’s definition of what is “best for America,” his official Agriculture Advisory Committee, which includes many representatives of mainstream farm groups, apparently does not want to bring it back.

On Monday, POLITICO’S Morning Agriculture quoted a farm attorney/lobbyist from the firm of Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz saying that COOL will not be making a comeback under President Trump.

Most farm and ranch groups reportedly oppose bringing COOL back from the dead. However, in addition to R-CALF USA, the free trade group known as the Coalition for a Prosperous America has been pushing COOL to the Trump transition people. Smaller rural progressive groups have also supported COOL in the past.

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