By Michael Kaiser
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized the rule repealing country of origin labeling rules (COOL) for certain muscle cuts of meat. The repeal, as authorized by the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, will allow the the US to avoid costly tariffs places on goods, including wine, exported into Canada and Mexico.
WineAmerica worked tirelessly as a member of the COOL Reform Coalition to make sure the COOL rules were repealed to avoid a complete disruption of the American wine market in Canada. In 2014, U.S wine exports to Canada reached $487 million, a 7% increase from 2013. Retail sales for American wine in Canada now eclipse $1 billion. In 2013 the U.S. was the second largest exporter of wine to Canada, with a 16% market share among wine imports sold in Canada. If the over $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs were implemented by Canada, the costs of US wine exported to Canada would have rose exponentially. If the Canadian market was to shrink, the excess wine would have remained in the United States, causing a glut. This was not something our industry would have been able to tolerate.
The COOL issue is an example of an issue that seemingly has no bearing on wine, but as a value added product, it is an easy target for tariffs and other trade barriers. WineAmerica did not have a position either way on the labeling rules themselves, but in order to protect the interests of American wine in the Canadian market and here in the United States, we had to become a leader in the COOL Reform Coalition. We worked hand in hand with our partners working House and Senate offices to secure repeal. When a witness was needed for a Senate hearing, we provided it (Wine Testifies for the Senate) and without the work of our grassroots network we would have never been able to stop the tariffs from being implemented. Wineries and associations from as far flung as Washington and Virginia played an important role in getting the message out about the dangers of this issue.
This COOL repeal is just one example of what WineAmerica is doing in Washington, DC to protect the business interests of American wineries. We are the only national organization working for the American wine industry in our nation’s capital.
Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, email@example.com
WineAmerica is the national voice of the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.