Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee statement on Senators’ COOL Bill

Farm Forum

On July 23, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding legislation introduced by Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) that ties repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) to both the elimination of existing market driven programs and the establishment of a so-called voluntary country of origin (COOL) labeling program for beef, pork, and chicken. This new voluntary program would operate under similar rules as the program found to violate U.S. international trade rules.

“With the imminent threat of retaliation before us, I appreciate the constructive step forward by our Senate counterparts in agreeing that the House-passed language repealing mandatory COOL for beef, pork, and chicken is the appropriate direction to go. As Canadian officials said today, the so-called voluntary portion of the bill introduced today is unacceptable, as it will not bring us into compliance and will not serve to prevent billions of dollars in economic sanctions on U.S. products. I applaud the continued efforts of Chairman Roberts to address this issue and encourage the Senate to accept the language he put forward that would place the threat of retaliation behind us, just as the House did when 300 members supported H.R. 2393 nearly two months ago.”

“Time is of the essence, and there is no excuse for the Senate to recess while the threat of economic harm hangs over nearly every industry in the U.S. If the Senate acts in a responsible manner by passing a clean repeal before recessing, I will commit to working in a bipartisan manner to try and craft a purely voluntary program that is both trade compliant and does not interfere, intentionally or not, with existing labeling programs. But, the responsible action of repeal must come first. The time to act is now. ”