Both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have voted to repeal country of origin labeling (COOL) laws involving the labeling of meats through the passage of a year-end funding bill that included language calling for the repeal of COOL.
The bill passed in the House with a 316-113 vote and in the Senate with a 65-33 vote.
Congress had been facing pressure to repeal COOL after the World Trade Organization (WTO) in May deemed the laws unfair and inconsistent with free trade obligations. Canada and Mexico challenged the U.S. COOL laws, saying they discriminate against beef and pork from the two countries. The two countries vowed to seek retaliation in the form of tariffs on U.S. goods, and the WTO on December 7 authorized Mexico and Canada to issue more than $1 billion in tariffs.
While a bill to repeal COOL was approved in the House of Representatives, the Senate never passed any COOL-related legislation until the funding bill that was approved on December 18.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), which has been one of COOL’s most vocal opponents, recently drafted and sent to congressional lawmakers a letter signed by 248 other organizations urging the repeal of COOL.
NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage said House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, both Republicans, were instrumental in getting the COOL language into the bill.
“America’s pork producers are grateful that lawmakers, particularly Chairman Roberts and Chairman Conaway, recognized the economic harm we faced from retaliation because of the WTO-illegal COOL law,” said Prestage. “I know tariffs on U.S. pork would have been devastating to me and other pork producers.”