Mandatory COOL for Beef and Pork Repealed, Sanctions Avoided
The House and Senate approved Dec. 18 an omnibus federal spending bill that includes a repeal of mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for muscle cuts of beef and pork and ground beef and pork. As a result, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, effective Dec. 18 USDA is not enforcing the COOL requirements for these products and will be amending its regulations to reflect the repeal “as expeditiously as possible.” Vilsack added that all imported and domestic meat will continue to be subject to rigorous USDA inspections to ensure food safety.
Press reports indicate that the congressional action will stave off the imposition of $1.1 billion in retaliatory sanctions by Canada and Mexico, which were expected to take the form of higher import tariffs on U.S. goods such as agricultural products, furniture, machinery and home appliances. According to CBC News, Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland “said Canada still intends to obtain formal approval next week from the WTO for retaliation, even though the tariffs won’t be imposed.”