What the COOL amendment does and does not do.
With all of the feedback about the Committee vote on country of origin labeling, I thought it necessary to elaborate a little more to address the concern that has been expressed directly to me.
Why this makes sense for the American consumer, agriculture producers and good for trade:
First, it has nothing to do with food safety. That is the sole responsibility of the USDA which is charged with making sure the food we eat is safe, wholesome and labeled with the "USDA Stamp" of approval.
Second, the COOL amendment came about due to pressure from special interest groups to protect a small segment of cattle producers in the northern tier of states.
Third, the meat we eat at restaurants, fast food places, frozen canned and processed meat are exempt from the COOL amendment therefore we do not know where that meat comes from.
Fourth, the meat products that come from foreign countries outside of Mexico and Canada are already required to be labeled as Country of Origin Labeling. For example meat products from China will be labelled as such.
Due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), our country entered into a "free" trade agreement with Canada and Mexico in the 1990's. Canada is one of our closest and best ally in addition to being our largest trading partner for the U.S. and Florida. Mexico is also a close ally and our third largest trading partner. The COOL amendment again was created and passed as a government mandated marketing program to protect special interests not consumers in the 2000's.
Canada and Mexico teamed up and sued us in the World Trade Organizations (WTO) Courts which we the United States of America, have become subservient to because of the NAFTA agreement. We lost the case and appealed three times and lost four times in the WTO court. This decision allows Canada and Mexico to retaliate against us in embargoes and increased tariffs. The net result is an estimated $51 million impact to Florida and in excess of $ 2 billion dollar impact to our nation's economy. The bottom line is it hurts our agricultural community; not just in Florida but the across the country. This ends up costing American consumers more in the price they pay for beef, pork and poultry products.
As a food animal veterinarian practicing for over thirty years in the field and having personal experience working in slaughter houses - inspecting and processing the meat we eat - I too am concerned where our meat comes from.
The Cool Amendment did not make our meat safer and didn't identify where all of our meats come from. The new proposal will encourage U.S. producers to label their product as bred, born, raised, fed and processed in the Good ol' U.S. of A.
Lessons learned from all this is not to enter large multi-national trade agreements that bind our hands and sovereignty to U.N. Control entities like the WTO. That is why I will not support TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) or TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). I am all for bilateral trade agreements that account for 53% of the trade we already do and I look forward to increasing these types of trade agreements.
I hope this will help clarify the work that was done in the House Agriculture Committee recently.
As always thanks for being the most engaged people in America.