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House Votes to Repeal Country-of-Origin Labeling for Meat

The House of Representatives has voted to repeal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, and chicken.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael Conaway’s Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 passed late Wednesday night by a 300-131 vote.

Conaway introduced the bill on May 18 — the same day the World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. appeal of its decision that COOL unfairly discriminates against meat imports and gives the advantage to domestic meat products.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-us-capitol-building-spring-west-front-dome-under-scaffolding-restoration-image53398765Two days later, the House Agriculture Committee passed the bill by 38-6.

COOL, which went into effect for meat in 2013, require that packaging indicate the country, or countries, where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

Supporters of repeal don’t want the U.S. subjected to the $3.6 billion in potential retaliatory tariffs sought by Canada and Mexico. They also argue that the rule has already burdened the U.S. meat industry.

“The program has not worked, and it is time to put this failed experiment behind us once and for all,” Conaway said during the floor debate.

He and Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Jim Costa (D-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), David Scott (D-GA) and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) asserted that COOL has no impact on food safety.

“Mandatory food labeling is not about food safety,” Benishek said. “No matter where our food comes from, regulations remain in place to ensure safety and traceability regardless of origin.”

But consumers want COOL, said several members opposed to the repeal, including Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA). After referencing a survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America finding that 90 percent of Americans favored requiring a label with the country of origin on meat, he said that the response to the last WTO ruling was, “We don’t really care what the American people want. We’re just going to cave.”

“I think that’s the wrong way to proceed,” McGovern added.

COOLabel_406x250Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who spoke for seven minutes, said that despite comments from President Obama that, “No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws,” the bill to repeal COOL shows that “trade agreements have a direct effect on our sovereignty.”

DeLauro said the same is possible of Trade Promotion Authority legislation to “fast track” trade deals, and she warned her colleagues to “beware of the road that you go down today.”

House Democrats who spoke on the floor in support of the bill included Reps. Costa, Scott, Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) who said that, “COOL may have been well-intended, but we’ve lost four times at the WTO … let’s repeal it, let’s move on.”

Opponents of the bill argued that it is a premature move and includes products not addressed in the WTO decision.

“We’re rushing in a repeal that goes beyond just the disputed elements, adding poultry and raising questions, I think, about our commitment to being able to give consumers what they want,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Instead, legislators should “take a deep breath” because no retaliatory tariffs are going to be quickly inflicted, he noted, adding, “This is a process that’s going to take months.”

“Critics of H.R. 2393 will say we have more time, but in truth, we don’t,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA). “This final ruling is the fourth time WTO has ruled against the U.S. for various versions of COOL and, on this final appeal, WTO has given both Canada and Mexico the authority to impose more than $3 billion in combined retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. within 60 days of the ruling.”

The countdown was at 37 days on Wednesday, Newhouse said.

June 17 is the next meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, where members will consider Canada and Mexico’s retaliation lists. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) stated that it will take some time to figure out “what the damage is” and then there will be an arbitration panel “to get everyone to agree that that’s exactly what it is.”

© Food Safety News
  • ctbigdawg

    Instead of buckling to what is a direct threat to our sovereignty they should be voting to withdraw from GATT and the WTO as both Canada and Mexico need trade with us far more than we need trade with them.

  • Gene

    The real argument here,sadly, may well be less whether it was wise legislation and more that America can be held hostage by the WTO.

  • heavyhanded

    The bill also included chicken, which was not part of the trade dispute. This will certainly open the door for chicken to come that the other country that starts with the letter C. The EU recently passed their own COOL, which contains the same information for the consumer as our current label. Congress just told the consumer, “you do not need to know where these foods come from”. Hopefully, the senate speaks for the people and not the multinational meat processors that control our meat supply.

    • Phyllis Holmes

      The U.S. sold itself to China and Mexico and very long time ago – no one paid attention then, no one is really paying attention now. How sad.

  • sue

    it’s never to late to become a vegetarian

  • brenda black

    Well, they get to be in the dark with us.

  • William556

    So what happens when food-borne illnesses spike? What happens to domestic meat producers who get put out of business? What happens to national security when the US becomes a net food importer when it doesn’t have to be? How many countries will be willing to sell the US food once the dollar inevitably crashes?

    • jonathantaylor

      You have asked the perfect question! Conservatives should be very upset about this, however they say it hurts corporations! Again anything that takes away our right to choose what we buy based on origin gets taken away from us. I agree with you, what stops other countries from selling us tainted meat that goes under the radar of usda? What happens when Walmart et al start purchasing meats from China over American goods? This could destroy the American farming industry as stores will look at profit over safety in what we eat.

      • William556

        Thank you. It isn’t Conservatives so much as RINOs and the dumbbells doing this. Some of them are just after the lobbyist money and probably boosting the value of their stocks. Others pursue a silly notion of Free Trade, which they see only as supplying cheap stuff and keeping consumer prices low. They are obviously blind to the fact of how this policy has hollowed out the American economy and continues to do so, and now they’ve betrayed farmers like they did factory workers.
        We are really going to regret losing the agricultural base because that is going to be very hard to restore, much harder than building factories, but I fear it is going to happen and Congress is too clueless and corrupt to stop it.

  • Puxcow

    Ok so it passed the House. What none of these news articles are saying is what will happen in the Senate. What are the chances of this passing the Senate? Can anyone reading elaborate on that? I am curious.

    • 1motorpsycho

      We can all call our senators to make certain we are heard on this issue. That’s the best way of knowing what will happen. We must!

  • Kristy Graham

    So if Canada and Mexico are going to throw a fit..quit getting meat from them at all and start supporting our local farmers and ranchers. Crazy concept I know.

    • Mary Richter

      A lot of the meat that comes out of the US is not good either. I liked the COOL law but now you will find many companies are putting their own labels on grass fed beef, wild caught fish etc. Also there is third party labeling for organics etc. Most people don’t care where their food comes from as long as it is cheap.

      • LaFawn Davis

        I’m not one of those people. I care where my food comes from. One, I trust Americans more. Two, if they violate my trust I can more easily sue them over here. Three, I prefer to patronize American farmers and help to perpetuate domestic food sources.

  • Jane Peters

    This stinks. Do they want Americans to be unhealthy?

    • lisa

      a healthy america = no money for big pharma.

  • 3monkeys

    Figures……my Teabag rep Dan Benishek is part of this bill. Keep voting against your own best interests, sheeple.

    • Jim Plantz

      The Dems aren’t any better in case you didn’t notice. Apparently we no longer have any representation in Washington.

      • LaFawn Davis

        Ah, I checked and Virginia’s democratic Congressmen voted against it. They voted to keep food labeled by country.

  • SamIamTwo

    WTH over? I don’t want to buy from India, China etc etc. I want to buy American food. The other nations have little to no control over what is pushed out to the public.

    Yet again, congress is out of step with the public. And it is coming from both sides of the isle, not just one party.

    • foodsleuthing

      Ah, but too bad for us. The world considers it “unfair” to tell Americans where their meat comes from because they know, given the choice, most of us will buy U.S. only meat. You need to take up the fight at your local butcher or grocery store. Insist they tell you where the meat is coming from or go someplace else to shop. As of July 9, 2015 our local “good” grocery store still marks the origin of the meat products. I’m concerned that is short lived. Also, don’t forget to try your local farmer’s market. I know ours has a vendor for locally raised and slaughtered beef.

  • Stimpypppppppp

    Cool is one of the best things to ever happen to American farmers and ranchers. What this is really about is meatpackers being able to import cheap foreign beef of inferior quality to mix with american beef to push prices down. The meatpackers and ncba gave millions of dollars to the GOP to get this done. I thought republicans used to cry about one world government now they are bow down to it.

    • wuu

      i agree with all but pushing meat prices down. its so that they can make more profit by mixing it in. theyll keep prices the same or raise them later.

    • Greg

      “poor” quality in the beef industry is normally defined by the species of the cattle, Hefer vs Angus, not necessarily by where it comes from. Also, the imported animals are blended with the American cattle at an very young age, something like 3 months. Then fed and raised equally. One would be hard pressed to tell the local apart from the import at time of slaughter.

      Keep in mind, this article/issue pertains to live cattle, a substantial amount of processed beef is imported (ie: Australia). Beef patties at many restaurants come from down under.

      Furthermore, to say all imports are of inferior quality is completely false and contradictory. Australia and Canada have higher rated standards of living than the US. This does not happen by having poor food quality.

  • Barbara

    The U.S. is run by a bunch of pussies!

    • Mary Richter

      actually I think it’s run by a bunch of money grabbing elitists.

  • Chris Flowers

    I hope you like dog food from China on your kitchen table. Republican A-holes. GO HEAD and TRY to defend this.

    • mike

      I guess all those dems that voted for it are ok? typical hypocrite!

    • Phyllis Holmes

      It is stupid to blame one party for this, both sides voted for it. Politics – my first question would be for each who voted for it; what’s in it for you personally? What are you feeding your kids? My husband and I at 64 and 69 are now growing our own food, other than meat, so we know what it contains – and it’s not altered seed, pesticides, and all the other gunk farmers put in/on it to increase production. The only sure way to know – grow it yourself and if you can’t demand your politicians better protect your food sources. Could care less that Mexico or Canada are upset by this. Maybe we’ll get some jobs back.

  • xnerd

    where is the voting record!!!!

  • JoAnn Johnson

    Well maybe they do not care so maybe we can make them care when we leave the garbage in the meat case at the super market. Then we will see if they care when it all sets there and rots.

  • Dave

    Amazing how Canada and Mexico are holding our politicians hostage!

  • Shakezula

    I have a theory on this. Like TPP, this is an attempt to reduce the cost of consumer goods and maintain the illusion that the dollar is still worth something. Imagine what inflation would look like today if everything was still manufactured in the USA.

  • Glenn

    They think their saving money? The best way to show them is to hit them in the pocketbook. If we all ate meatless at least once a week, it would impact the corporations much more than these supposed fines. We should all be eating much less meat if we don’t know where it’s coming from. China? God, I hope not!

  • KelliRN

    This my friends is a travesty of injustice to those of us who want transparency in whom we are supporting by what we buy.. and that we do not want horse meat in our hamburger or any other questionable product/packaging/handling practices of some countries of origin. Thank you congress for supporting local farmers as I will NOT buy any meat or especially seafood from an undisclosed location!! Go local!!

  • navybrathacked

    Let’s think about the meat scandals from other countries…Hmmm. Okay. Let’s think about how chicken is a major food born disease culprit…hmmm okay. Let’s think about giving up and giving in…Nope, don’t need to think about it, it has to stop. I like to know where my fresh fruit and vegetable come from and I want to know where my meat and poultry comes from. that is my right to know.

  • Johnny Sherman

    For those who blame Democrats as well as Republicans: R and D Party voting Yea–234 and 66, respectively; R and D Party voting Nay–10 and 121, respecctively

    Here is the link

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/114-2015/h333

  • Diane port

    US meat should be identified for consumers!!! Why should they not be given a preference. Most people I know want to know where meat originated. You’re suppose to protect the citizens first!,

  • Diane port

    Why wouldn’t US meat products be preferred over foreign? Aren’t the representatives suppose to look out for the citizens they represent? What’s next, changing labeling on manufactured goods made outside the U.S.!

  • badassmeowcat

    Hell they COOL even in the UAE…

  • Joanne O’Brien

    Give us the right (which we should already have) to know where our food is coming from

  • Steve Warshaw

    easy solution. your city / town has grocery stores that sell local meat… buy it, and not the steroid, antibiotic, and who knows what other crap laden meat you’re going to get from walmart, etc.

  • Dick Adams

    Very disappointed with both polititical parties to allow this travesty on the American public. At the present price of beef, I want good old grain fed (feed lot) meat from the US. We export our good beef to Japan and bring in “range cattle” from Argentina and Mexico that is only chewable after it is ground into hamburger.

  • Marjorie Dunnican

    I only buy humanely raised meat free range not just opening the door. I buy a lot of beef from Australia. Pork US. Chicken US. I can taste the difference in my meat. Ill know when I cook it. It looks like next year Ill have to buy part of a cow and a pig csa to be sure it is healthy to eat.

  • Cyndi

    Did Rosa DeLauro say something smart for a change??

  • Jamie Bonett

    So people who buy American cars are being unfair to other countries who manufacture automobiles? How do we get country of origin labels removed from ALL products? So that we cannot support any American worker who is part of a union and trying to put kids thru college and pay off the house. Oops. House needs to be manufactured elsewhere and shipped secretly to America before purchase because other countries will impose “retaliatory tariffs” for not buying theirs. Phuque your phuquing trade agreements. Repeal them. Keep COOL.

  • Bill Tobias

    we have a right to know where the food we eat comes from period . anything else is called blind faith and we all know where that has got us with this gvt.

  • Heidi

    i ONLY eat meat from 1 farmer, at my farmers market. Eat whatever non-labeled food you want scholars, in my opinion, when you do, you are dumb, and dumb people can be gradually evicted from the gene pool in this non-scary way. Whatev. More room for me. I just feel bad for the kids and pets subjected to households of people with no business reproducing.

  • mtpokit

    Science is also now beginning to link Alzheimer’s with TSE

  • Patrice Stevens-Lehman

    I don’t like buying my chicken from Japan. I always look at where the meat I buy came from. BUY AMERICAN!!!!!! Keep labeling the origin. Think about it. Do you want a fresh chicken that came in today from just a few states away & is guaranteed fresh or do you want a chicken that had to fly across the world & then get somewhere where they had to drive it to you. That’s not fresh.

    • Matthew Tut

      You mean China. If chicken came from Japan I wouldn’t be as worried since they usually are ahead of the game on most things…well except for nuclear reactors.

  • Ken Brown

    The U.S.A. is going to export chick’s to China. And China is going to feed, raise the chicks and then China will process them. So please Boycott Tyson Chicken’s they are the responsible party here. Then the chicken’s are raised in China, they will be imported back to the U.S.A. I find this is from someone plus in Wash. D.C.

  • Shelly Thornton

    People should care where their food comes from, many don’t because they haven’t been informed as to the negative aspects of non-organic, chemical-infested food and waters. BUY LOCAL!!!!! GO TO A FOOD CO-OP OR A LOCAL FARMER YOU KNOW AND CAN TRUST! Screw the big companies!

  • David WillisTruck Dean

    Start buying local foods from ranchers & butchers you trust.

  • Really

    Easy. Don’t eat meat.

    • LaFawn Davis

      Easier said than done.

  • Jacque Myers Smith

    This makes no sense!! We get to know where our clothes are made, but not where our meat comes from? Really!!!???

  • SCDeb

    I love my local farmers markets. I hope this pushes more to seek out their local farmer for meat, fish, and poultry along with produce.

  • Ray Leonardi

    So now I can eat food/meat from other countries like China and Mexico, that have no problems feeding their own citizens poisoned food, and which will not be inspected by the USDA? Yep, just one more reason to hate Congress…

  • suzangace

    want to know the names of the a-holes who voted on this stupid law!!! mystery meat in America!!! anyone know how find them?

  • Christopher Robert

    You know what, it was probably a tough decision to make with the WTO putting pressure on us. I wonder what kind of pressure China gets for not importing our products? Interesting the WTO is for leaving that alone despite China ruling the export game that we fought to bring them into in the first place. So as mad at the house of reps I’d like to be, in this case you kinda have to not be. But I do have a solution……..every company that farms and distributes livestock here in the U.S., especially in state, should loudly represent themselves as “All American!” And I mean “ALL” Farmers here need to do this so that we can get what we want because the imports won’t be labeled, but ours will, and clearly not violate any WTO trade laws. Let’s see them tell us we can’t be proud of our American Products.

  • whumbyrd

    This is about CHINA and our never ending willingness to bend over and let them have their way with us. Tyson cit a deal with China. Most of the Talpia in this country comes from China. They OWN US!!

  • developertest03

    The US Government is becoming irrelevant as far as consumer protection. Organizations like the USDA, EPA, FDA, etc… are good ideas in theory, but in practice, they often decide who can break the rules and who cannot (picking winners and losers). I am not saying they are useless and do not provide many beneficial consumer protections, only that the further out we go, the more corrupt they become. We have a Monsanto FDA and USDA revolving door. How could we possible expect the very same people paid by such multi-nationals to look out for the demand side? Because they are honest, and we trust the government? NO. Anymore I just look at government standards and labeling (or lack their of) as to be expected. We must rely on 3rd party labeling into the future. The politicians are doing exactly what they are paid to do, it should come as no surprise that this means looking out for the interests of those who pay them.

  • Dennis

    There has to be a country of origin on every piece of merchandise in a hardware store. I would much rather know where my Food came from than where my pipe wrench was made.

  • Ken Hinckley

    Has anybody ever tasted Australian beef. Of course they don’t want you to know where the livestock came from because the US is, was, and always will be capable of raising the best meat in the world.