There’s been a lot of talk recently about mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Let’s set the record straight on a few things.
First, TCFA supports voluntary COOL. We know that U.S. beef is the best in the world in terms of quality, consistency and sustainability and we support a label that highlights those high standards.
However, that label should be market-driven, not mandated by the federal government.
Market-driven programs have proven to be effective, not only for the ranching and feeder families that are the very foundation of our nation’s beef supply, but also for consumers who enjoy high-quality, affordable, nutritious beef. One of the best examples in the history of beef production and marketing is Certified Angus Beef....a voluntary marketing label that has added millions and millions of dollars to the value of beef through increased demand for quality beef.
Mandatory COOL was federal law for 6.5 years, but that law ended up costing all U.S. cattle producers significantly with no measurable benefit to consumers. Let’s visit a few of the reasons mandatory COOL failed the first time.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland), Former Chair of the House Ag Committee, in June 2015 laying out how retaliatory tariffs in response to mandatory COOL would hurt U.S. agriculture. Congress ultimately repealed the law.
Congress subsequently repealed mandatory COOL in 2015 three days before the tariffs were scheduled to go into effect because of the undue harm the law itself and potential retaliatory tariffs would cause U.S. producers and consumers. Even though Congress prevented WTO from placing tariffs on U.S. beef in 2015, the WTO case remains active. If, at any time, the U.S. implements a new mandatory COOL program, Canada and Mexico can immediately retaliate. They don’t need any additional approval from the WTO.
As we’ve learned time and time again, increasing the government’s involvement in our day-to-day operations with a mandatory label would prove disastrous and ineffective, even more so, during a time when the entire country, especially the cattle industry, is facing unprecedented and extraordinarily difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.