Texas Farm Bureau supports COOL repeal for beef, pork and poultry
Legislation that would save U.S. agricultural exports from punitive trade retaliation has received support from Texas’ largest farm organization.
The Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) board of directors voted unanimously May 21 to support HR 2393 by House Agriculture Committee Chairman and Texas Congressman Mike Conaway. That legislation seeks to avoid economic retaliation from Canada and Mexico by repealing the beef, pork and poultry requirements of the mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law.
“Chairman Conaway’s legislation is a good fix,” said TFB President Russell Boening. “It simply removes the offending provisions on beef, pork and poultry. Problem solved.”
Country of origin labels say where livestock are born, raised and slaughtered. Conaway’s legislation focuses on a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute brought by Canada and Mexico.
WTO dispute settlement panels have repeatedly found that U.S. COOL regulations violate WTO rules by unfairly discriminating against imported meat products. Canada and Mexico have threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of U.S. food products if the U.S. does not bring the measure into compliance of WTO rules.
“Even though we supported COOL in the past, we can’t sit by and allow a now-tainted provision—that has offered little measurable benefit to producers—threaten other commodities grown by Texas farmers and ranchers,” Boening said.
“If the provisions are not repealed, Texas producers will be hit hard,” he added. “Retaliation would also target a number of other agricultural products grown throughout the state and nation.”
Some experts say marketing demands for COOL could be met under a voluntary program administered by USDA. Conaway’s bill, recently passed by the House Agriculture Committee, is also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation.