Hoeven: We Need A Solution for Cool that Prevents Export Tariffs

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee today, Senator John Hoeven said we can’t put ourselves in a position where Canada and Mexico can retaliate against us for mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) labeling, so we have to repeal mandatory COOL. The issue is, can we have a voluntary labeling program and still meet World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements.

“We cannot be in a position where our producers face punitive tariffs,” Hoeven said. “So, the question is what kind of program could work for both sides, so that we could repeal mandatory COOL and meet the requirements of the WTO, but still have a voluntary program that won’t trigger tariffs for people who favor COOL.”

Retaliatory tariffs imposed by Canada and Mexico won’t just impact meat producers and processors; it will affect consumers, businesses, companies and jobs, so we need to find a solution that works for everyone, he said. Failure to repeal the mandatory labeling law may open the United States up to $3.2 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico.

Earlier this month, the WTO ruled for the fourth time that the labeling law violates international trade agreements. The WTO is undergoing an arbitration process to determine the level of retaliation that Canada and Mexico will be authorized to implement, and both Canada and Mexico intend to implement retaliatory tariffs should the U.S. fail to address the current COOL law.

Among those who testified today was Leo McDonnell, Executive Officer and Director Emeritus for the United States Cattleman’s Association, who ranches in Rhame, North Dakota.