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Beef Buzz News

Six Years After Repeal, Senator John Thune Still Wants Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling

Tue, 10 May 2022 09:39:47 CDT

Six Years After Repeal, Senator John Thune Still Wants Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling Farm broadcasters, including Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to listen to various speakers such as Senator John Thune of South Dakota during The National Association of Broadcasters Washington Watch. Ron Hays, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, features comments from Senator Thune at Washington Watch, talking on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.

Senator Thune indicated he is not yet on board with the Grassley-Fischer bill that would mandate the cash cattle trade. He said the cattle industry is simply not in agreement on which direction to go. If most cattle groups were on board with that measure, he said would be supportive as well.

One issue Thune said is garnering considerable support is Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, MCOOL.

“The one issue that does seem to unite most of them with one exception or two is country of origin labeling,” Thune said.

We were able to successfully get that into the 2002 farm bill and the 2008 farm bill, Thune said, and both times it was struck down by the World Trade Organization.

“It was repealed in 2015, which I opposed because of fear of retaliation based on a World Trade Organization decision that would enable some of our trading partners, mainly Mexico and Canada, to retaliate against the United States,” Thune said.

Thune said there was a concern that they would hit agricultural commodities.

“I think we need to come up with a way of wording this so they can withstand a World Trade Organization challenge and ensure that we are willing to defend it at the World Trade Organization, which is something we haven’t done in the past,” Thune said.

The World Trade Organization ruled against the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule of the U.S. in 2014 and the Obama Administration appealed it twice. The WTO rejected those appeals both times.

In November of 2014, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack under the Obama Administration said there is no additional regulatory fix for COOL that would be consistent with U.S. law as it exists and would also satisfy the WTO. When a billion dollars of retaliation was announced by the WTO for Canada and Mexico, the U.S. Congress had little choice but to repeal it at the end of 2015.

Over six years later, there are still senators looking at ways to redo Country of Origin Labeling. Senator Thune is one of those working on legislation.

“We have a bill, Jon Tester and I do, that would essentially allow USTR working with USDA a for a year, to come up with the WTO compliant version of Country of Origin Labeling, and if they don’t then we would just move forward with the COOL bill legislatively up here,” Thune said. “The belief is that because they haven’t been willing, in the past, to defend this at the World Trade Organization, that if they have input into this and how it’s drafted, we could draft it in a way that perhaps would comply with WTO requirements and even if it gets challenged, then they would be willing to defend it.”

Thune said we want to give them an opportunity to have some input into this.

“That is a piece of legislation we are working on and it is not unanimous in the Ag community but it enjoys, I think, a pretty broad support,” Thune said.

Years after the appeal, South Dakota Senator, John Thune is still wanting Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling to be the law of the land. The trick is, it has to look significantly different than our earlier mandatory COOL, otherwise, Canada and Mexico can immediately impose the billion dollars in tariffs annually already granted to them by the WTO.

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Senator John Thune on Manditory Country of Origin Labeling.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



Listen to Senator John Thune on Manditory Country of Origin Labeling
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