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Rep. Rouzer Chairs First Subcommittee Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, held a public hearing to examine the implications of potential retaliatory measures against the United States in response to its country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef and pork.

In 2002, Congress initially adopted a country-of-origin labeling requirement for meat products despite serious concerns that it would not comply with trade commitments. Subsequently, the law was amended ion 2008 and immediately challenged in the World Trade Organization (WTO) by Canada and Mexico, the main livestock exporters to the U.S. The WTO has since ruled three times in their favor, and members and witnesses at today’s hearing stressed the significance of the U.S. potentially losing its fourth and final appeal.

“We could be looking at substantial retaliatory sanctions against agriculture and a variety of other industries,” Chairman Rouzer said. “As we heard from our panel of witnesses, the threat of retaliation is severe, and Congress must act quickly to prevent irreparable damage to certain industries and the overall economy. After hearing from members of the agriculture and business communities, it is more apparent than ever that this committee must not only fully understand the potential consequences following the WTO decision, but to be ready with a legislative solution. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to avoid retaliation.”

Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, “I applaud Chairman Rouzer’s leadership on this urgent issue. I agree with my colleagues on this subcommittee that we should look into all ramifications of the WTO decision so we can find a way to maintain trade with our main livestock markets, Canada and Mexico. Meat industries knew from the start that this policy would not hold up in the WTO, but Congress didn’t listen, and we have seen major costs with no benefits. COOL has been a failed experiment from the start, and now the economic damages we could face will be felt by all Americans, not just the agriculture industry.”

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