Renegotiation of NAFTA Should Address Beef, Cattle Issues
Washington. The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today urged US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to pursue country-of-origin labeling (COOL) issues in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). CPA believes that reinstatement of COOL labeling will help US consumers to find safer food alternatives and will also help to boost domestic agriculture.
“If the president wants to extend his ‘Buy American, Hire American’ agenda to the nation’s agricultural sector, then we need to revise our food labeling policies,” said CPA Chair Dan DiMicco. “Americans undoubtedly want to buy safe, domestically farmed beef and pork. They should have the option to choose where their food is raised.”
America’s cattle industry is the single largest segment of US agriculture, and includes roughly 750,000 cattle farm and ranch operations. Currently, US agriculture is prohibited from distinguishing between domestic and imported beef due to objections raised by Canada and Mexico at the World Trade Organization (WTO). CPA believes the US Trade Representative should negotiate with Canada and Mexico to reinstate COOL labeling for both beef and pork.
“Thanks to objections from Mexico and Canada, global food companies can import unlabeled beef and sell the resulting food products to uninformed consumers, often with a ‘Product of USA’ label,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of the CPA. “As a result, US cattle producers receive a smaller share of the consumer dollar while America’s consumers do not benefit from either price savings or important label information. The USTR has an opportunity to address this issue while also helping America’s hard-working farmers and ranchers.”
Stumo notes that Canada’s recently enacted retaliatory tariffs have impacted US beef producers. Addressing COOL labeling disparities can help to level the playing field for America’s agricultural sector.
“Without such concessions, American cattle producers on one end of the supply chain and American consumers on the other will continue to be hurt,” said Stumo. “Unless we address the food labeling issue, the effectiveness of renegotiating NAFTA to strengthen America’s overall economy will be diminished.”