Hoeven Speaks at U.S. Cattlemen's Association & I-BAND Annual Meeting

Senator Outlines Voluntary COOL Legislation, WOTUS and Trade Updates

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, today told members of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND) that they are good stewards of the land and water and he is working on legislation at the federal level that will enable them to continue their good management. 

“North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers have a long and successful history of good environmental stewardship, and they provide Americans with the highest quality beef in the world,” Hoeven said. “Today’s meeting was a good opportunity to outline legislation I have been working on to help them succeed, including Voluntary COOL, preventing WOTUS and protecting U.S. herds from exposure to foot and mouth disease. I will continue working to make sure that our farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to continue providing the best products in the world.”

Specifically, Hoeven outlined progress on the Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) that would prevent retaliatory trade sanctions by Canada and Mexico, yet still allow voluntary labeling of beef, pork and chicken that is produced in the United States.

The Hoeven-Stabenow measure positions 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 bill maintains 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.

Senator Hoeven also updated the USCA and I-BAND on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS). The EPA released the proposed WOTUS regulation in 2014 and issued its final rule this past June. If implemented, this expansion of the EPA’s regulatory authority would have significant economic impacts for property owners who would face new federal permits, compliance costs and litigation.

In June, Hoeven, a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the committee approved the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill, which included a provision to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing WOTUS. The funding legislation now is now awaiting consideration by the full Senate.

During the meeting, Senator Hoeven also addressed the import of beef from Brazil and Argentina. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued regulations to allow the importation of fresh beef from Northern Argentina and certain states in Brazil.

The rule has raised concerns among U.S. livestock groups because of Argentina’s previous cases of foot and mouth disease, which affects cloven-hooved animals including cattle, bison, sheep and goats. In response, Hoeven is working to include language in the Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill to address this issue.  Last year, Hoeven and Senator Klobuchar (D-Minn.) wrote to the USDA and urged the agency to extend the comment period to help ensure that the rule is properly assessed and that stakeholders would have sufficient time to review any impacts the imports may have on America’s livestock industry.