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Chairman Roberts to Protect U.S. Agriculture After WTO Ruling on Country-of-Origin Labeling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today released the following statement after the World Trade Organization (WTO) handed down its fourth and final ruling on country-of-origin labeling (COOL) against the United States.

“As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will consider any solution – including repeal regarding meat – that will allow the United States to be WTO-compliant and avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico.

“As early as next month, Canada and Mexico may be given the green light to retaliate against the U.S. by way of implementing billions of dollars in tariffs on U.S. exports. Not only will meat be subject to tariffs, but also related U.S. industries will be hit with undeserved tariffs. Those costs will be passed on to consumers.

“I have long had concerns with COOL for meat. USDA’s attempt to fix COOL was not enough, and we now know that those changes continue to be problematic in the eyes of the WTO. If Congress doesn’t act swiftly, retaliation will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.

“I have serious concerns that potential remedies suggested, such as the generic label, will not satisfy the Canadians and Mexicans and fail to halt impending retaliation.

“I am working with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to develop a solution. We’ll do whatever it takes to protect the livelihood of American farmers, ranchers and industries that will be targeted by retaliation.”

First authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, COOL requires information detailing where livestock were born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO agrees with Canada and Mexico’s claim that the label creates an unfair advantage to U.S. products.