In 2015, the U.S. ended its practice of enforcing country-of-origin labeling (COOL) on beef and pork products in the face of resistance from trading partners and the World Trade Organization.
The policy, which initially became law as part of the Farm Security and Rural Reinvestment Act of 2002, required retailers to label these products with information about the country in which they were produced and packaged.
However, it was strongly opposed by both Canada and Mexico, especially the meat industries in those countries. In 2015, the WTO upheld a ruling finding that the law discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock, and allowed both countries to levy retaliatory tariffs against U.S. imports. In response, Congress repealed country-of-origin requirements.
"President Donald Trump has indicated that he may wish to try to renegotiate portions of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement."
But a new presidential administration with different priorities regarding trade could mean the return of this controversial policy, according to Food Dive.
President Donald Trump has indicated that he may wish to try to renegotiate portions of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, and country-of-origin labeling may be back on the table.
To some Canadians, this isn't entirely unexpected.
"We've always expected the COOL issue would be coming back at some point," John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, told the Calgary Herald. "When the law was repealed, there were some congressmen and senators, including some Republicans, who said, 'yeah, sure, we'll vote for this repeal, but in the next Congress we expect to replace it with something.'"
Given that Canada and Mexico still retain the ability to launch retaliatory tariffs, the return of country-of-origin labeling still isn't a sure thing. But retailers everywhere should be thinking about how they might have to comply with this regulation if it happens to come to pass.
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