The World Trade Organization on Monday announced its final ruling that the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cuts of meat imports have cost Canada and Mexico, two of the dairy industry’s largest trading partners, more than $1 billion dollars. That means the countries soon will have the ability to impose retaliatory tariffs in that amount against U.S. exports.
These tariffs could have a devastating effect on the U.S. dairy industry. In 2014, Mexico and Canada were the first- and third-largest export markets for U.S. dairy products, respectively, and U.S. dairy exports to Canada and Mexico were collectively valued at approximately $2.2 billion.
The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body will hold a special meeting on Dec. 18 to provide official authorization for Canada and Mexico to retaliate. After that, IDFA believes it would only be a matter of days before Canada and Mexico would release the final list of products and could start applying tariffs to U.S. food, agriculture and manufactured goods soon.
COOL Reform Coalition
The COOL Reform Coalition, representing more than 140 companies and associations, including IDFA, issued an urgent appeal to Congress asking for the U.S. to honor its international trade obligations and immediately repeal the provisions that are out of compliance with WTO regulations.
“Retaliation could start within days, posing a very real threat to our economy and thousands of American jobs,” the coalition members said in a statement. “Unless Congress acts now, companies that export to our two largest trading partners are in jeopardy of losing significant market share that will be difficult to regain.”
In June, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 2393, a bill that would repeal country-of-origin-labeling requirements for beef, pork and chicken, while leaving intact the requirements for all other covered commodities. According to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX), “The governments of Canada and Mexico have stated repeatedly that enactment of this legislation will mitigate the need for any retaliatory actions fundamentally ending this case, once and for all.”
It’s now time for the Senate to act. IDFA is asking members to urge their senators to work with colleagues to find a solution that would remove the threat of retaliation on U.S. cheese and other dairy products.
Read statements from Canada and Mexico:
Members with questions on COOL may contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at (202) 220-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about contacting your senators, contact Ashley Burch, IDFA director of political programs, at (202) 220-3534 or email@example.com.