Five U.S. senators from three states, all Democrats, have let the leadership know that county-of-origin (COOL) meat labeling is not worth a trade war with Canada and Mexico. Led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the five sent a letter dated Tuesday, Dec. 1, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), telling them that now is the time for the United States to repeal its COOL law. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) joined Feinstein in asking the Senate leaders to repeal COOL before Canada and Mexico are able to impose retaliatory tariffs against such products from their states as wine, chocolate, beef, dairy, and processed tomato products. The five senators fully expect the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has already ruled against the U.S. on the merits of the labeling dispute over pork and beef products, will later this month authorize Canada and Mexico to impose punishing retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products far outside the meat sector. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 300-131 to repeal COOL, but the Senate Agriculture Committee is still looking at its options in the trade dispute. In the letter, the five Democrats say it’s time to “resolve this trade dispute with our closest neighbors before the end of the year.” The senators wrote: “We urge you to ensure the Senate passes legislation to avoid costly and damaging retaliatory tariffs by repealing the specific beef and pork labeling requirements found to be out of compliance with our trade obligations.” Canada and Mexico are the top U.S. trading partners, with U.S. exports of goods and services to those countries topping $2.34 trillion last year. Canada and Mexico are also the top trading partners for the three states represented by the five senators.
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