As previously covered on this blog, mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) rules for beef products have long been the subject of controversy and challenge, culminating in: (1) a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the COOL requirements violate U.S. trade obligations to Canada and Mexico and (2) Congress repealing COOL for beef and pork as of December 21, 2015. Since then, some states have sought to require COOL labeling for beef within their states. For example, in 2017, Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado considered state-level COOL legislation, but in each case, the measures were defeated. And on January 5, 2018, Colorado state legislators introduced a bill titled “Beef Country of Origin Recognition System” also referred to as the “Beef COORS bill” which proposed that “Product of the USA” labels be limited to beef derived exclusively from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.
Last week, Colorado legislators rejected the “Beef COORS bill,” voting 10 to 3 in committee to prevent the measure from being debated on the Assembly’s floor by the state’s House of Representatives.
The ultimate fate of COOL for beef at the state and federal level remains unclear, particularly since some stakeholders are pushing the Administration to follow through on its campaign promise to create a level playing field for independent domestic meat producers through increasing transparency for consumers, i.e., to have COOL comprise a key element of the Administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations.