A committee of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is calling for Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL) to be a voluntary, rather than mandatory, program.
Mike Cline of Elgin, Iowa, who chairs ICA’s Beef Products Committee, says the committee had concerns about the impact that the current COOL law will have on the United States’ major trading partners.
“We don’t want to disrupt our current avenue of beef distribution—to put any speed bumps on the four-lane highway of beef trade,” Cline says.
“We just would like to see a voluntary program versus a mandatory program, which we think would maybe be more expensive to producers,” he says. “With a voluntary program, it’s kind of a ‘pull’ through the whole system, rather than a ‘push’. We think by leaving it a voluntary system, it would be more advantageous to Iowa cattle producers.”
Cline’s committee developed that policy during ICA’s Summer Policy Conference this week in Ames. It now goes to the ICA board of directors for consideration. ICA’s previous policy on COOL had expired.
Canada and Mexico have complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the COOL rules discriminate against imported livestock. Canada, in response to recent U.S. changes to COOL, has asked the WTO to approve retaliatory measures. Mexico is expected to follow suit, but has not made an official announcement.