WPI Spotlight

The Trump administration has prepared a document entitled “Key Elements of a Model Trade Agreement,” which lists 24 items (so far) to be considered in any trade deal, including the renegotiation of NAFTA.


Most are obvious and long-held objectives, ranging from addressing non-tariff trade barriers to intellectual property protection. Others are expected from President Trump’s campaign promises such as ending tax rebates for exports and ensuring trade deficit reduction.

Item number 15 on the list is country-of-origin-labeling (COOL). This is despite it seemingly being settled in December 2015, at least for beef and pork, when the U.S. rescinded the regulation to comply with a ruling against it by the WTO. Per that decision, the U.S. would have faced $2.5-4 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico had it not repealed COOL.

Mandatory COOL is still in effect for certain other commodities such as lamb, goat and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. Notably, USDA has just proposed adding venison to that list for both muscle cuts and ground meat., and the comment period on that closes next week.

As WPI has previously noted, the Brazilian meat scandal has put some wind in the sail of COOL supporters, but the idea has also been somewhat of a grassroots issue as it has been proposed in at least three state legislatures to date this year. These include:

  • Colorado - Legislation has been proposed in the Colorado House to require country-of-origin information for beef sold in the state by placing a placard next to it in retail stores with specific details. It would indicate “U.S.A. Beef” when the product is exclusively from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States. Alternatively, the placard must state the name of the foreign country or countries from where the beef originated if it is of foreign origin.
  • South Dakota - Legislation was proposed in the South Dakota Senate that stated: “Any beef or ground beef verified as originating in the United States shall bear a placard declaring it to be a product of the United States of America. Any beef or ground beef determined to be of imported or mixed origin shall bear a placard declaring the country or countries of origin. If the origin of any beef or ground beef cannot be determined, the product shall bear a placard that denotes the origin as, unknown, or as, country of origin unknown.”
  • Wyoming: Legislation proposed in the Wyoming House read: “Every retailer and every wholesaler who sells or offers for sale in this state through an establishment or otherwise any beef which is the product of the United States shall clearly label the beef as a product of the United States of America.” The original version called for listing the country-of-origin for imported beef.

(This article was originally published in the 4 April 2017 issue of Ag Perspectives as part of a policy analysis by Dave Juday. Click here to find out more about subscribing to Ag Perspectives.)

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