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The food industry's leading trade associations are cheering the move by House Republicans this week who voted to repeal a law requiring country of origin labeling mandates for beef, pork and chicken. The measure, which will leave other commodities originally covered in the law unchanged, was prompted by a ruling last month by the World Trade Organization, which said the labels stating where animals were born, raised and slaughtered are discriminatory against the two U.S. border countries of Canada and Mexico.
In reaction to the passage of H.R. 2393 -- formally known as the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Amendments Act of 2015 and sponsored by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) -- grocery industry leaders responded with praise.
From Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI): “Today’s vote was an important first step towards addressing the WTO’s finding that significant portions of the COOL law violate the United States’ international trade commitments. The Senate must now act expeditiously to take up this legislation and complete the process of reforming COOL… Even the USDA’s own economic analysis of COOL found that it hurt producers, packers, retailers and consumers without offering any clear economic benefits in return. COOL needs to be changed.”
From the National Grocers Association’s (NGA) President Peter Larkin: “Aside from impacting supermarket operators' bottom line, should the U.S. remain non-compliant with the WTO's rules, it will cause market and supply dislocations, adversely affect jobs, business operations, and international trade. We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this important legislation to bring the U.S. back into compliance with our international trade obligations.”
From Cathy Burns, president of Produce Marketing Association (PMA): “Today’s vote shows that members of Congress value the importance of trade and they recognized the potential $1 billion loss in produce exports to Canada and Mexico through tariffs and the uncertainty it would create for long-term contracts. Our industry depends on a fair, transparent and reliable international trading system to supply consumers around with world with affordable fresh produce year-round.”