FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2015
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON (December 7, 2015) – National Farmer Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today denounced finding by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the U.S. Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law warrants $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico, calling the process “inefficient and ineffective,” and pointed to the immediate passage of voluntary COOL to render the WTO decision moot.
“Today’s decision to allow Canada and Mexico to impose $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs is yet another symptom of the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the WTO,” said Johnson. “Time and again the WTO process has undermined U.S. sovereignty and the right of American consumers to know the origin of their food,” said Johnson. “Congress now only has one clear path forward for ensuring U.S. regulations are in compliance with the WTO while preserving a meat label with integrity, and that solution is voluntary COOL.”
Today’s WTO decision to allow Canada and Mexico to impose $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs against the United States is a far cry from the $90 million figure provided to the panel by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in early August. Johnson said that such a high number is representative of the WTO’s ineffectiveness to provide sufficient guidance for ensuring laws are in compliance.
“The WTO rules without precedent and continues to undermine laws and regulations that benefit society,” said Johnson. “The U.S. tried to ensure COOL regulations were in compliance, but received insufficient guidance and consequently could be on the hook for exaggerated damages.”
Johnson noted that the decision underscores the immediate need for the U.S. to pass voluntary COOL, which has already received thumbs up from the U.S. Trade Representative, Canada and several multinational meatpackers.
“Voluntary COOL will solve the trade dispute once and for all, while protecting the integrity of the COOL label by defining what a ‘product of the U.S.’ is,” said Johnson. “Congress needs to act swiftly and pass voluntary COOL to avoid the $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs that are now approved by the WTO.”
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.