University of Tennessee’s Ag Policy Analysis Center Urges Return of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling

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Billings, Mont. – In a recently published “Policy Pennings Column” by Dr. Harwood Schaffer and Dr. Daryll Ray of the University of Tennessee’s Agriculture Policy Analysis Center (Center), the authors urged the return of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, and bison.

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COOL Could Inform Buyers About The Product They Are Buying

The Center states that COOL could give consumers information they need to buy products that meet their individual buying preferences and the cost of providing this information would be negligible because the information already exists in the meat supply chain.

The Center explains that the information systems developed within the meat supply chain prior to the 2015 repeal of COOL for beef and pork still remain today but are simply not being used to inform customers about the country of origin of beef and the other meats.

That fact that customers want to know the country of origin of the meat they purchase is supported by the online COOL petition maintained by R-CALF USA. The petition, located at, has been signed by over 400,000 customers who are asking the President and Congress to pass mandatory COOL for beef, pork and dairy products.

Obstacle To The Return

In addition to stiff opposition from meatpackers and importers, an obstacle to COOL’s return for beef and pork is the pending ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that authorizes Canada and Mexico to institute retaliatory tariffs if beef and pork were simply re-added to the COOL law.

But, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says that Congress can avoid any problems with the WTO ruling by passing a new law to reinstate COOL for beef rather than re-adding beef to the old law.

“If Congress passes a new law that does not adopt the exceptions and limitations of the old law, the WTO ruling will not apply.  For example, if Congress lifts the old law’s narrow definition of a retailer and expands that definition to include anyone who sells beef to the public, the WTO ruling would be rendered inapplicable,” he said.

Bullard said his group is working with several congressional offices to restore mandatory COOL for beef and is hopeful new legislation will be introduced in Congress soon after the election results are known.


R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit or, call 406-252-2516 for more information.