Livestock groups oppose USDA COOL ruling

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 23, - Livestock groups are disappointed in a USDA ruling they claim could be dangerous to the future of their industry. 

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has finalized a March 12 proposed ruling to implement mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), a decision that many in the livestock industry oppose. 

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“It is incomprehensible that USDA would finalize a controversial rule that stands to harm American agriculture, when comments on the proposal made clear how deeply and negatively it will impact U.S. meat companies and livestock producers, “said American Meat Institute Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp. “Many people spoke, but no one at USDA listened.” 

The ruling comes after WTO determined the 2009 COOL rule brought forward by the U.S. was in violation of WTO obligations. The USDA proposed a new rule in March of 2013 that, it claimed, brought the U.S. back into compliance. However, industry representatives claim this rule fails to bring the U.S. back into compliance and is dangerous to the future of the livestock industry. 

“Our largest trading partners have already said that these provisions will not bring the United States into compliance with our WTO obligations and will result in increased discrimination against imported products and in turn retaliatory tariffs or other authorized trade sanctions,” Scott George, President of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said. “As we said in comments submitted to USDA, ‘any retaliation against U.S. beef would be devastating for our producers.'”

The rule becomes official as soon as it is posted on the federal register, which Dopp said could be as early as May 24. Dopp said this means producers and retailers alike will have to be prepared to provide information on where animals were born, raised, and slaughtered or they will be out of compliance with the new USDA ruling. While the rule may be effective so soon by the USDA, AMI expects to see another WTO review in six to nine months. 

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