R-CALF USA Statement on WTO COOL Ruling

Correction: The WTO award for Canada was in Canadian dollars. The statement below has been corrected by converting Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars.

Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement following today’s release of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) arbitration decision that claims the United States mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law caused Canada and Mexico to suffer annual losses of $780 million and $228 million, respectively:

“The WTO decision is utterly absurd. The entire value of Canada’s live cattle imports in 2014 was $1.753 billion and this represented an historical high. It is absolutely impossible that Canada could be suffering an annual loss representing 45 percent of Canada’s record high imports.

“Mexico’s live cattle imports in 2014 were valued at $739 million and it is equally impossible that COOL has caused Mexico to lose 31 percent of the value of its record level of exports.

“Another way to look at the absurdity of this ruling is that Canada exported 1.2 million head of cattle to the United States in 2014. If it would have imported 45 percent more without our COOL law, then Canada would have exported an additional 559,000 head in 2014. This would have seriously depressed domestic cattle prices in 2014.

“Congress should take no action to repeal COOL or weaken it by converting it to a voluntary program. Instead, Congress should direct our U.S. Trade Ambassador to negotiate a diplomatic solution to Canada’s and Mexico’s complaints by deploying the United States’ substantial negotiating skills. After all, this is precisely how the United States resolved country-to-country disputes before the U.S. began ceding its sovereignty to the unelected and un-appointed tribunal at the WTO.

“Congress should also direct the U.S. Agriculture Secretary to immediately begin promulgating new COOL rules to close some of the loopholes identified in the WTO dispute that are effectively limiting the effectiveness of COOL.

“The U.S. cattle industry and U.S. consumers are in dire need of leadership from this Congress and this Administration to preserve our vitally important mandatory COOL law that informs consumers as to the origins of their meat and enables producers to compete against the growing tide of imported beef arriving at our borders.

“Under no circumstances should Congress or the Administration surrender our mandatory COOL law.”

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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.