The National Pork Producers Council is urging swift passage of H.R. 2393, legislation to repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry, following the World Trade Organization decision that the requirements violate international trade rules.
The WTO Monday rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the U.S. Country-Of-Origin Labeling law discriminates against Canadian cattle and pigs and Mexican cattle. COOL requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. Canada and Mexico send livestock to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision paves the way for those countries to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports.
The bill introduced by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and cosponsored by 56 members would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the meat labeling provisions. No companion measure has been introduced in the Senate yet.
In a letter of support sent today to members of the Agriculture Committee, NPPC President Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C., said, “We must avoid retaliation from our No. 1 and No. 3 export markets, and quick passage of H.R. 2393, followed by immediate action in the Senate, will ensure that U.S. jobs and the American economy will not suffer the negative effects of tariffs.”
Canada and Mexico are expected in the coming days to request authorization from the WTO to retaliate against a host of U.S. products, including pork, beef and even non-agricultural goods. The countries are expected to claim billions of dollars in damages, and the WTO likely will authorize a high level of retaliation possibly as soon as this summer.
“We can’t afford to have our products restricted, through tariffs, to two of our most important markets,” said Prestage, who pointed out that last year the U.S. pork industry exported almost $6.7 billion of pork, including about $2.5 billion just to Canada and Mexico, which added nearly $63 to the price of each hog marketed.