The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) issued a statement today ahead of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture’s consideration of the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Amendments Act, praising them for rescinding statutes that mandate the program.
Last month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its fourth ruling against the U.S. regarding mandatory COOL. Their belief is that produce sourced from countries such as Canada and Mexico will be unfairly judged by consumers. Both countries have vowed to restrict trading and even impose additional taxes totalling $3.7 billion if COOL is ever signed into law.
Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the PMA wrote that its 2,700 member companies that represent 90 percent of the fresh produce sold in the U.S. could be at a disadvantage if the WTO ever changes its mind with respect to COOL labeling.
“Like most of the organizations that represent targeted products, our members stand to be collateral damage in a program from which they derive no benefit. U.S. produce exporters now face retaliation in these important markets which not only jeopardize sales once the tariffs are imposed, but they have threatened these important markets immediately because of the uncertainty that long-term contracts face given the amount of time the WTO has to approve the retaliation requests.”
PMA estimates that $1 billion in annual produce exports could be lost.
“We urge Congress to protect important export markets in Canada and Mexico by acting quickly to approve H.R. 2393, a bill to amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal country-of-origin labeling requirements with respect to beef, pork and chicken.”
According to agriculture secretary Tom Vilasack, Congress is now responsible for coming up with a plan regarding whether or not to move forward with COOL.