WASHINGTON – Today the Senate Agriculture Committee will meet in a hearing titled “Country of Origin Labeling and Trade Retaliation: What’s at stake for America’s Farmers, Ranchers, Businesses, and Consumers.” Lawmakers will hear from several industry stakeholders, including Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is a committee member, and no stranger to country of origin labeling.
“I’ve probably been, going back, more than at least ten years, fighting to get COOL legislation in place,” Grassley told reporters ahead of the hearing, “so that people that bought food would know where their food comes from.”
The World Trade Organization struck down COOL earlier this year, calling it discriminatory against foreign products and paving the way for more than three and a half billion dollars in trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico this summer. Grassley says that can be avoided.
“I’m a firm believer yet in COOL,” he explained, “but I’m not going to worry about the economic or the ideological, or just the emotional part of COOL anymore, since we’ve been overruled by the WTO twice, we’re going to have to find a legal way of doing it, or repeal it.”
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is also a Senate Ag Committee member, and believes the solution is clear.
“At this time I do think that we need to repeal COOL,” she said. “We must do whatever it takes to ensure our products reach other countries without retailation, of course, to our American producers. So it is an ongoing discussion. I am committed to finding a workable solution, so if that means other members are not willing to outright repeal COOL, then we will have to find other avenues to make this work, but we don’t want retaliation against our American producers.”
To hear more about the Senate Ag Committee hearing on country of origin labeling, click the audio player above this story.