Industry reaction to the World Trade Organization decision against the United States on the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law have been coming in steadily since the announcement was made earlier today.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson says they believe the situation can be handled by USDA. “Under the guidance of USDA, any changes to COOL to ensure full compliance with today’s decision should be able to be made administratively, while maintaining the integrity of COOL labels,” said Johnson, adding that polls show consumers support the rule. “American consumers want to know where their food comes from, and America’s family farmers and ranchers are proud to provide that information,” he said.
National Pork Producers Council President Howard Hill urged the Obama administration and Congress to fix the law to avoid trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico. “The United States must avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico,” said Hill. “Retaliatory tariffs on pork would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers.”
The COOL Reform Coalition held a press call and webinar to respond to the announcement, offering reactions from a variety of groups including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), Corn Refiners Association, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Canada and Mexico are the two largest markets for U.S. exports,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy. “The disruption of these trade ties by WTO noncompliance and the resulting retaliation by our North American neighbors will have a devastating economic impact on U.S. industries including food production, agriculture, and manufacturing.”
“The retaliation list could include many products,” said NCFC president Chuck Conner. “Cheese from Wisconsin, soybeans from Minnesota, corn from Iowa, orange juice from Florida, cherries from Michigan or Oregon, and a whole range of products from almonds to wine in California.”
“USDA has not fixed this, they made it worse,” said John Bode with the Corn Refiners. “We need for Congress to fix this mess right away.”
Listen to all the comments here: COOL Reform Coalition reaction