Rep. Tom Reed led a bipartisan letter to the Farm Bill Conference Committee recently urging the conference committee to modify a Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule to avoid retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products. Reed led the bipartisan letter with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) with the support of 23 bipartisan members of Congress.
"New York agriculture could face steep retaliatory tariffs if this regulation is not amended," Reed said. "The list of targeted products threatened by increased tariffs includes apples, cheeses, maple syrup and wine all agricultural products New York State and our district are known for. We have to enact a fair fix that protects the agriculture community and our local economy as a whole from what has the potential to have a widespread negative impact."
Last spring the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a rule for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) as it pertains to meat products that resulted in threats of retaliatory tariffs from both Canada and Mexico on various agriculture products and commodities. The list of retaliatory tariffs includes a wide range of agriculture products, meats, foodstuffs and furniture. Reed's letter asks that through the Farm Bill, the Conference Committee works toward a compromise on COOL to relieve the tariff threat from Canada and Mexico and protect U.S. products.
"We're weighing in with the conference committee in response to what we heard from constituents," Reed continued. "If this regulation is left in place it may have crippling effects on some of our most successful products. The Farm Bill presents us with an opportunity to maintain the valuable trading partners we have in Canada and Mexico and safeguard against the tariffs. While understanding of the need for labeling standards, we should find common ground that cares for the entire agriculture community."
Text of the letter to Farm Bill Conference Committee Chairs and Ranking Members is attached.