May 19th, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has introduced bipartisan legislation to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for certain cuts of meat to avoid retaliatory tariffs on a variety of U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico. The bill, H.R. 2393, would repeal the country of origin labeling requirements for beef, chicken, and pork. The bipartisan legislation currently has 60 original co-sponsors.
The full House Agriculture Committee will be holding a hearing on H.R. 2393 tomorrow, and a markup is expected to follow. Currently there are no amendments proposed, but that could change in the committee markup. Once reported from committee the bill will head to the House floor, which could happen as soon as early June.
This morning WineAmerica attended a press conference at the Capitol for H.R. 2393. The press conference was held by the two lead sponsors of the COOL repeal legislation, Chairman Conaway (R-TX) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA). They were joined by members of both parties who expressed their support of the legislation. Industry representatives spoke in support of the legislation and praised Conaway’s and Costa’s efforts. Bobby Koch, President of the Wine institute was in attendance, saying that the market for American wine had increased 78 percent into Canada over the last five years, where total wine sales had increased only 16 percent. He stressed that all of this is in jeopardy of being lost if the retaliatory tariffs on wine are implemented. Congressman Costa also stated the importance of wine, stressing that California alone would face a $1 billion retaliation hit this fall if the existing COOL rules are not repealed.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will also be working on a solution to the WTO ruling. Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has stated he is open to any solution, including repeal for meat, to prevent retaliatory tariffs. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has come out against repeal. It is unclear when the Senate might take action.
Canada and Mexico have been clear that nothing short of a full repeal of the COOL rules will satisfy their respective governments. Without a full repeal, the World Trade Organization has authorized Canada and Mexico to take punitive action against the United States in the form of retaliatory tariffs.
WineAmerica supports efforts by Congress to address the COOL regulations, including the repeal legislation introduced Representatives Conaway and Costa. WineAmerica’s government affairs team will be advocating for quick action on H.R. 2393. Retaliatory tariffs could be implemented as soon as August, Congress must work quickly to address the issue.
Questions and inquires should be directed to Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.