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COOL part of U.S. farm bill negotiations

A panel is making the COOL policy a key issue and discussion point in the U.S. farm bill negotiations


Washington, D.C. – U.S. lawmakers met last week to discuss the farm bill (the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013), and this time some participants, a select House-Senate panel, included the COOL policy in the discussion.

CattleNetwork.com reports that with the risk of international sanctions – Canada announced in July that it is prepared to impose tariffs on U.S. products – the panel wants to look at debating a repeal or revision of the COOL policy.

The U.S.’s labelling requirement means including information about where each of the production steps – such as where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered – takes place. It also removes the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts.
(For more, read: “USDA’s final rule on COOL discriminates against Canadian hogs and cattle.”)

Some consumer groups, says Reuters.com, favour the U.S.’s stand on COOL, but it has been up for debate among other industry groups. And this has been going on for a decade now: In 2002, Congress approved meat-origin labelling, but it did not become mandatory until 2009.

Industry stakeholders in Canada say the requirement the U.S. made amounts to discrimination. It also goes against last summer’s WTO’s ruling on the issue, which ruled in Canada and Mexico’s favour. (For more, read: “WTO sides with Canada – again.”)

CattleNetwork.com says U.S. meatpackers are against COOL as well, viewing the requirements as an added cost with very little payoff.

The policy has already led Tyson Foods Inc. to cancel orders of Canadian cattle, citing the additional costs. The effects of COOL are also expected to add costs at every stage from cow-calf producers to consumers.

Lawmakers plan to complete the farm bill by the end of the year, adds CattleNetwork.com. After the government shutdown in October, President Obama has identified the farm bill as one of the three key tasks to complete before 2014.