Friday, May 29, 2015
Billy Long offers COOL column
Since 2009, stores have been required to include country of origin labeling (COOL) on unprepared or raw foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of nuts, and ground or cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb. The rules, based on the 2002 Farm Bill, have been the source of controversy among some livestock producers and actions against the U.S. within the World Trade Organization (WTO) from Canada and Mexico. The WTO ruled May 18 against the U.S. and determined that U.S. COOL regulation harms trade obligations with Canada and Mexico.
The ruling comes after four years of back-and-forth within the WTO and several USDA revisions to COOL. The WTO’s ruling will allow Canada and Mexico to impose retaliatory tariffs on products such as meat and crops. This could cost U.S. agriculture billions and could have a$623 million impact on Missouri’s agriculture economy – especially on beef, pork, corn and soybean producers. Canada has already made threats, stating in 2013 that it would impose a 100-percent tax on imported U.S. commodities.
This could have a large, negative impact on southwest Missouri, and that is why I am one of the original co-sponsors of H.R. 2393, which would repeal COOL. A simple repeal would shelter farmers and businesses from undue burdens Canadian and Mexican sanctions could bring. These retaliatory tariffs could deal a blow to the Missouri Seventh District’s $265 million cattle industry and $58 million grains industry.
I am a firm believer in free trade with other nations forged through agreements and mutual understanding. If it were not for trade between Canada and Mexico in the first place, Missouri- and American-made goods would have a much smaller market. After all, Canada and Mexico are the top two destinations for Missouri-made merchandise, making up 50 percent of Missouri exports’ value. This is an instance in maintaining that understanding, and we must uphold the best policies for Missourians and all Americans. Repealing COOL is the best approach to continuing a sound, beneficial trade partnership among friendly nations.