In a strong bipartisan vote of 38-6, the House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 2393 which would repeal the Country of Origin Labeling requirements for beef, pork and chicken. This would bring the United States into compliance with last week’s World Trade Organization ruling against the United States.
Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “This bill is a targeted response that will remove uncertainty and restore stability for the United States by bringing into compliance. We must do all we can to avoid retaliation by Canada and Mexico, and this bill accomplishes that through full repeal of labeling requirements for beef, pork and chicken.”
Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, said, “With the recent decision by the WTO, we must act rapidly to avoid serious trade barriers being enacted against U.S. agricultural products.”
However, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, urged members not to move too quickly with an outright repeal. Peterson said, “I’m disappointed that the WTO ruled against the United States, but I think repealing COOL is premature. Of course no one wants to see retaliation, but it’s important to point out that there are still several steps that have to occur before that would take place. Given what we have seen in the past – it took 15 months for the Arbitration Panel to issue a ruling in the U.S.-Brazil cotton case – it’s unlikely the panel will rule on COOL retaliation within their 60-day window.” The House of Representatives is expected to consider the repeal bill in early June.