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Canada, Mexico Have No Standing to Bring Complaint Against U.S. COOL Law

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Washington, D.C. – R-CALF USA has filed formal comments with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to emphasize that the group believes it is fundamentally contrary to the U.S. Constitution for USTR to agree that foreign governments – specifically Canada and Mexico – have any standing whatsoever to bring a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against our constitutionally passed mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law.

"We urge the USTR to take deliberate and decisive steps to quash Canada's and Mexico's attempts to interfere with the United States' sovereign right to inform U.S. consumers – using the most accurate and truthful means possible – about the origins of the food they purchase for themselves and their families," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "We agree with USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) that our COOL law is consistent with international standards and we believe the complaints by Canada and Mexico against the U.S. COOL law are baseless. Unfortunately, this WTO dispute procedure grants those countries an overly simplified forum to retaliate against U.S. citizens' exercise of their constitutional rights."

The U.S. COOL law imposes no duty or restrictions on any foreign government, nor imposes any limits on the volume or type of commodities that a foreign country may export to the United States.

Also, foreign countries are not obligated, in any way, to export to the U.S. any of the commodities subject to the U.S. COOL law – hence, a foreign country's decision to market its products in the U.S. market and under the rules of the U.S. market is purely voluntary.

In addition, COOL jurisdiction is exclusively limited to U.S. retailers, as defined exclusively by U.S. law, and subjects all covered commodities marketed by U.S. retailers to identical information requirements, regardless of where the commodities originate.

"Thus, our domestic COOL law does not affect international trade agreements, and it is fundamentally inappropriate for the WTO to even entertain a foreign country's complaint against our domestic COOL law," Bullard emphasized.

In addition to the comprehensive comments submitted on Monday to USTR – which address each of the eight separate allegations raised against the U.S. COOL law by Canada and Mexico – Bullard also has recently met personally on behalf of R-CALF USA with USTR officials at their Washington, D.C., headquarters. During that meeting he presented import, slaughter and consumption data to explain that it is supply and demand factors that have caused changes in import volumes, not the implementation of COOL as Canada and Mexico allege.

"COOL enables consumers to freely choose between food products of various origins," said Bullard.  "Consumers' choices will influence the market demand for products from any given country. This is how a competitive market is supposed to work, and neither Canada, nor Mexico, nor the WTO have any right to take that competitive market away from U.S. consumers."

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R-CALF USA, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated (more...)
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