Senate Must Act on COOL

The American wine industry is about to face crippling tariffs from Canada and Mexico, and we need your help! We need you to let your Senator know that a full repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat and poultry is the ONLY way to avoid crippling tariffs on our industry.

How does meat labeling affect the American wine industry?

Country of Origin Labeling concerns how cuts of beef, pork and poultry are labeled. Canada disputed the U.S. law on the grounds that it violated World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico and has green-lit over $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. if COOL is not repealed. Wine is on the retaliation list.

It is now in the hands of the United States Senate to protect U.S. commodities and the U.S. wine industry from these devastating tariffs by issuing a full repeal of COOL.

What affect will tariffs have on American wine?

Currently the U.S. wine industry holds a 16% market share in Canada. Canada is the U.S. wine industry’s largest export market, and the first foreign market U.S. wineries begin exporting to when growing their brand internationally. These tariffs would almost double the cost of an U.S. bottle of wine in Canada. Unable to compete with other wine producing countries, U.S. wineries will lose vital shelf space and market share which will take years to rebuild. If COOL is not repealed, punitive tariffs would last two years, significantly harming current exporting wineries  and rapidly expanding wine producing regions such as New York, Virginia, and Ohio. The federal government has spent time and money  developing this export market through funds from the Market Access Program (MAP).  If the tariffs are enacted all of the success cultivated by those funds would be lost.

What has Congress done so far?

Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives voted to repeal mandatory COOL labeling for meat and poultry by over a 3 to 1 margin. The Senate Agriculture Committee then held a hearing on June 25 to discuss the repeal of COOL. Jim Trezise of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and a WineAmerica Board Member testified before the committee on the importance of repealing COOL. He emphasized the potential loss in business and the necessity for quick legislative action on the part of the Senate. He testified that nothing short of a total repeal of the COOL provision would stop Canada from excising the tariffs on wine and our industry paying the price.

Currently there are two active proposals to address the COOL issue in the Senate:

  • Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee has introduced a proposal identical to the House bill that passed in June, a full repeal of the COOL rules.
  • Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) have also introduced a proposal that would replace the mandatory labeling standard with a voluntary standard.

What needs to be done?

WineAmerica supports Senator Pat Roberts’ proposal. The Canadian government has made it clear only a full repeal will stop the tariffs from being implemented.

Supporters of COOL are saying that the voluntary standard is sufficient. IT’S NOT. Canada and Mexico have repeatedly said that they will implement tariffs unless anything short of full repeal is passed.

Reach out to Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs here at WineAmerica with any questions.

WineAmerica is the national voice 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.