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Chairman Roberts Files Amendment to Repeal Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling to Avoid Billions in Retaliation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today filed an amendment to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken – required by Canada and Mexico to prevent billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. economy.

“As I’ve said before, whether you support or oppose COOL, the fact is retaliation is coming,” said Roberts.

“We need to protect the U.S. economy from potentially $3 billion in tariffs. Canada and Mexico have repeatedly stated that Congress can prevent retaliation and protect our vast exports by simply taking up the House-passed repeal bill, and I am offering an amendment to do just that.

“We can continue to discuss voluntary labeling programs similar to those already in the marketplace – once COOL is repealed.”

The U.S. Senate has debated COOL for nearly three decades. In what continues to be a divisive issue, Chairman Roberts has attempted to find a workable solution for all stakeholders that will also meet U.S. commitments to trading partners. However, the fact remains that Canada and Mexico have won their case at the World Trade Organization four times and soon will have the ability to impose potentially $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports every year.

The amendment was offered to the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, commonly known as the highway bill. Co-sponsors include Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; David Perdue, R-Ga., James Risch, R-Idaho; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Chairman Roberts has opposed COOL from its inception. The Senate Agriculture Committee in June held a hearing on COOL and trade retaliation.