Posted May 6, 2015
Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) is not beneficial for American consumers, according to a Food Safety News article available here. Cattle Network also published an article available hereand Journal Star here.
COOL does not provide “measurable economic benefits” and costs producers, packers, and retailers in the United States $2.6 billion a year for all covered commodities, USDA’s chief economist report.
The report was mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill and was created by a team of agricultural economists from Kansas State University and the University of Missouri.
“In terms of consumers, USDA’s regulatory impact analyses concluded that while there is evidence of consumer interest in COOL information, measurable economic benefits from mandatory COOL would be small,” according to the report. “USDA’s regulatory impact analyses also found little evidence that consumers are likely to increase their purchases of food items bearing U.S.-origin labels.”
The study estimated that implementation of the 2009 COOL law resulted in $405 million in economic welfare losses in the first year in the U.S. beef industry, according to Cattle Network.
COOL law was included in the 2002 farm bill, and it was amended in the 2008 farm bill and implemented in 2009. COOL has been the focus of a World Trade Organization (WTO) lawsuit for more than five years. Shortly after being implemented, Canada and Mexico established a case against the United States in November 2009. The WTO ruled that certain COOL requirements discriminate against foreign livestock and gave the United States a May 2013 deadline to comply with its findings. This report was issued a few weeks short before the WTO is expected to issue its final ruling on the matter.
WTO rulings have previously gone against the U.S. If the U.S. loses this last appeal, it’s possible that Congress will repeal COOL, according to Journal Star.
USDA did successfully defend the COOL regulations in U.S. courts.
Bill Bullard, CEO of the United Stockgrowers of America, recently told Congress COOL means that, “No longer can meat from animals born and/or raised in a foreign country be passed off to unsuspecting U.S. consumers as meat deserving of the U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ reputation.”
For more information on Country of Origin Labeling, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.