COOL repeal rulemaking now under review

The regulatory rulemaking for the removal of country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork muscle cuts, ground beef and ground pork has been logged at the Office of Management and Budget for review.

Congress in December approved a fiscal 2016 catch-all federal spending bill that included repeal of the meat labeling provision of the COOL law, avoiding trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico. OMB must review all regulations before they are implemented. The COOL statute required meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

Canada and Mexico brought cases against COOL to the World Trade Organization, which ruled that it violated U.S. international trade obligations, discriminating against Canadian and Mexican livestock sent to the United States to be fed out and processed. The decision authorized Canada and Mexico to put retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods going to those countries — the No. 1 and No. 2 U.S. export markets. In December, the WTO set the retaliation level at more than $1 billion annually. Repeal of the labeling provision for pork and beef came the day — Dec. 18 — those tariffs could have been applied to a host of U.S. exports going to Canada and Mexico.

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