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The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) released statements today following the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body’s Compliance Report ruling that the U.S. mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for meat products are discriminatory to Canada and Mexico.
“With the release of today’s report, the WTO has once again reached the inescapable conclusion that the United States’ COOL law violates our international trade commitments,” FMI President/CEO Leslie Sarasin stated.
FMI urges Congress to act “expeditiously to bring COOL into line with our international trade obligations.” The retaliatory tariffs that Canada and Mexico are threatening to impose would damage jobs and companies that have no stake in COOL as well as damaging the United States’ reputation in international trading, FMI further asserts.
“The COOL labeling mandate has long imposed excessive burdens and costs with no clear evidence of meaningful consumer benefits," said NGA President/CEO Peter Larkin. "In fact, a recent report released by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation shows that only 15 percent of consumers use COOL labels, which has declined considerably from 26 percent in 2014,” he stated.
Both FMI and NGA are encouraged by recent remarks from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway that indicates he will introduce legislation on the burdensome labeling requriements of COOL. “We look forward to working with Chairman Conaway and his colleagues to pass a legislative solution that upholds the quality of service consumers expect from meat departments and will not limit the variety of product offered at supermarkets," stated Larkin.
Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, also indicated he plans to address the issue.
“FMI commends them for their leadership on this issue and urges all the members of Congress to work with and support the Chairmen’s efforts to fix this problem before US exports are unfairly penalized,” Sarasin said.