WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling that the United States’ mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) law for imported cuts of beef, chicken, and pork violates international trade agreements, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry – today announced his cosponsorship of the bipartisan Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Act of 2015. The bill would allow the U.S. to avoid retaliatory tariffs by repealing the mandatory COOL law and replacing it with a voluntary program that will enable processors to voluntarily label meat products. The COOL Act would maintain the integrity of the label, ensuring that the product is actually “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States,” rather than just processed in the U.S.
“Americans deserve to make informed decisions when it comes to food they put on the table,” said Brown. “While I prefer mandatory country of origin labeling and disagree with the World Trade Organization’s ruling, we need to take action to keep consumers safe while avoiding retaliatory trade sanctions from Canada and Mexico. Voluntary country of origin labeling standards will ensure that consumers know where their meat is raised and processed. A voluntary country of origin labeling program would benefit both producers and consumers, while ensuring the U.S. meat industry stays in compliance with the World Trade Organization.”
In May 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled for the fourth time that the United States’ mandatory COOL law treats Mexican and Canadian livestock less favorably than U.S.- origin livestock and violates international trade agreements. The WTO is undergoing an arbitration process to determine the level of retaliation that Canada and Mexico will be authorized to implement. Both countries say they intend to implement retaliatory tariffs should the U.S. fail to address the current COOL law.