Despite interest among cattle activists, a return to mandatory country-of-origin labels on beef "is not going to happen unless we want to do a billion-dollar litigation damage with Mexico and Canada," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
Agriculture amounts to a small part of NAFTA trade volume but it is a major sticking point for U.S. and Canadian negotiators who are scheduled to resume negotiations on the new NAFTA on Wednesday. The second-largest U.S. farm group said the White House ought to adopt the dairy supply management system that it reportedly is trying to eliminate in Canada and reinstate country-of-origin labeling on beef.
Several states are considering country of origin labeling (COOL) proposals, which would require that beef products be labeled as imported or domestic products. The state proposals follow several years of attempts by rancher groups to revive federal law that would require country of origin labeling for beef.
A year after Congress repealed country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork, the USDA is beginning the process of adding venison to the list of commodities where labeling is mandatory. The 2014 farm law included a provision to include muscle cuts and ground venison to the labeling system.
President-elect Donald Trump is getting a welcoming handshake from farm groups often identified with Democrats or populists, not just those touting free enterprise and low taxes. The National Farmers Union said in a letter to Trump that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, backed by many farm groups, is a threat to the rural economy, so "we hope to work with your administration on fair trade deals."
In the first official visit by a Canadian prime minister in 19 years, President Obama said repeal of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for pork and beef "bring the United States into compliance with its international trade obligations."
Meat packers and retailers are free of the requirement to identify the origin of beef and pork sold in supermarkets, according to a notice scheduled to appear today in the Federal Register.
With U.S. repeal of country-of-origin labels (COOL) for beef and pork, a notable increase in shipments of Canadian hogs is forecast by USDA economists.
In his first visit to the United States since appointment as Canadian Agriculture Minister, Lawrence MacAuley thanked U.S. allies for their help in winning repeal of a law that required packages of beef and pork to say where the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered. Congress repealed the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law a month ago, averting up to $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico.
Mexico and Canada objected to U.S. meat-origin labels since they became mandatory under the 2008 farm law, eventually winning a final WTO decision over the United States on May 18. The omnibus funding bill awaiting a vote in Congress would end the labeling system for beef, pork, ground beef and ground pork in order to avoid up to $1.01 billion in retaliatory tariffs.