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NMPF Calls for COOL Fix as U.S. Loses Last Appeal of WTO Trade Violation Finding

June 4, 2015

With Canada and Mexico poised to consider higher tariffs on U.S. farm products – including dairy foods – in retaliation for the Country of Origin Labeling program that violates international agreements, NMPF is supporting efforts to brings the United States into compliance with its WTO obligations.

In a May 18 ruling, the World Trade Organization found the U.S. labeling program violates international trade rules. The decision was the last opportunity for the U.S. to appeal earlier WTO findings against the COOL program.  As a result, Canada and Mexico are entitled to retaliate against U.S. exports, and that could well include higher tariffs on U.S. dairy products.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern noted that Canada has already indicated it will target the U.S. dairy industry, and that Mexico retaliated against U.S. dairy products in an earlier trade ruling against the United States just a few years ago.

“America’s dairy farmers should not suffer collateral damage as a consequence of our COOL policy,” Mulhern said. “The U.S. government needs to rectify this situation before we lose any export customers.  With U.S. farmers relying more and more on exports for income, we cannot allow the country of origin issue to interfere with dairy trade in this hemisphere.”

The House is expected to take up legislation soon to repeal the Country of Origin Labeling program and the Senate is also looking into a legislative fix to the COOL problem. If nothing is done, the dairy industry could see retaliatory tariffs as early as late summer or fall. Both Mexico and Canada are major export markets for U.S. dairy products.