WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2014 – More than 100 agriculture-related companies and organizations are asking Congress to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately rescind the meat provisions of the country-of-origin labeling rules that the World Trade Organization said are non-compliant with international trade obligations.
Failing to do so – and embarking on a lengthy appeal process -- would expose a wide variety of U.S. exports to retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico, resulting in “serious economic harm to U.S. firms and farmers,” the signees to the letter said. They include the American Feed Industry Association, Anheuser-Busch, the American Meat Institute, the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the Grocery Manufacturers Association
“It is expected that U.S. industries would suffer billions in lost sales if retaliation is allowed,” according to the letter.
A WTO compliance panel ruled on Oct. 20 that the U.S. regulations requiring meat labels to specify where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered violated global trade rules because Canadian and Mexican livestock received “less favorable treatment than that accorded to like U.S. livestock.”
The panel found that action from USDA to bring meat rules into WTO compliance last year increased the original COOL rule's “detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market.” The ruling went on to say the updated COOL rule “necessitates increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin; entails a higher recordkeeping burden; and increases the original COOL measures incentive to choose domestic over imported livestock.”
In their letter to Congress, the companies and organizations said that it would be “intolerable, even briefly,” for the U.S. to maintain the rule, “given the negative impact on the U.S. manufacturing and agriculture economies.”
They also maintain that Congress, in directing the Agriculture Secretary to rescind the provisions in question, “would not undermine COOL to the extent COOL is consistent with international trade obligations nor would it weaken the U.S. defense of COOL in WTO litigation.”
The letter was signed by the following organizations and companies:
Agri Beef Co.
Altrius Group, LLC
American Bakers Association
American Beverage Association
American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, A.C.
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition
American Meat Institute
American Peanut Product Manufacturers, Inc.
American Seed Trade Association
American Soybean Association
Animal Health Institute
Archer Daniels Midland
Auto Care Association
California Chamber of Commerce
California Cherry Export Association
California Pear Growers Association
California Table Grape Commission
Campbell Soup Company
The Coca-Cola Company
ConAgra Foods, Inc.
Consumer Electronics Association
Corn Refiners Association
Dart Container Corporation
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)
Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association
Food & Consumer Products of Canada
Food Marketing Institute
Georgia Food Industry Association
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Hawaii Food Industry Association
The Hershey Company
Hills & Company
Hilmar Cheese Company Inc.
H.J. Heinz Company
Hormel Foods Corporation
Independent Bakers Association
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
International Dairy Foods Association
International Franchise Association
International Sleep Products Association
Kraft Foods Group, Inc.
The Latino Coalition
Leprino Foods Company
Louisiana Retailers Association
Metals Service Center Institute
Midwest Food Processors Association
Mondelez Global LLC
National Association of Egg Farmers
National Association of Manufacturers
National Beef Packing Co., LLC
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
National Confectioners Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Foreign Trade Council
National Grain and Feed Association
National Grocers Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Renderers Association
National Retail Federation
Nestlé Waters North America
North American Equipment Dealers Association
North American Export Grain Association
North American Meat Association
Northwest Food Processors Association
Northwest Horticultural Council
NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies
Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
Penford Products Co.
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pet Food Institute
Produce Marketing Association
Red Gold, Inc.
Remy International, Inc.
Sargento Foods Inc.
The Schwan Food Company
Snack Food Association
Sweetener Users Association
Tate & Lyle Americas
Transportation Intermediaries Association
Tyson Foods, Inc.
United Egg Producers
United Producers, Inc.
United States Council for International Business
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Premium Beef
USA Rice Federation
The Walter Bagehot Council
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