Six Years After Repeal, Senator John Thune Still Wants Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling


Oklahoma Farm Report

10 May 2022


Farm broadcasters, including Farm Director KC Sheperd had the chance to listen to various speakers such as Senator John Thune of South Dakota during The National Association of Broadcasters Washington Watch. Ron Hays, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, features comments from Senator Thune at Washington Watch, talking on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.


Senator Thune indicated he is not yet on board with the Grassley-Fischer bill that would mandate the cash cattle trade. He said the cattle industry is simply not in agreement on which direction to go. If most cattle groups were on board with that measure, he said would be supportive as well.


One issue Thune said is garnering considerable support is Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, MCOOL.


“The one issue that does seem to unite most of them with one exception or two is country of origin labeling,” Thune said.


We were able to successfully get that into the 2002 farm bill and the 2008 farm bill, Thune said, and both times it was struck down by the World Trade Organization.


“It was repealed in 2015, which I opposed because of fear of retaliation based on a World Trade Organization decision that would enable some of our trading partners, mainly Mexico and Canada, to retaliate against the United States,” Thune said.


Thune said there was a concern that they would hit agricultural commodities.


“I think we need to come up with a way of wording this so they can withstand a World Trade Organization challenge and ensure that we are willing to defend it at the World Trade Organization, which is something we haven’t done in the past,” Thune said.


The World Trade Organization ruled against the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule of the U.S. in 2014 and the Obama Administration appealed it twice. The WTO rejected those appeals both times.


In November of 2014, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack under the Obama Administration said there is no additional regulatory fix for COOL that would be consistent with U.S. law as it exists and would also satisfy the WTO. When a billion dollars of retaliation was announced by the WTO for Canada and Mexico, the U.S. Congress had little choice but to repeal it at the end of 2015.


Over six years later, there are still senators looking at ways to redo Country of Origin Labeling. Senator Thune is one of those working on legislation...


more, including audio [5:16 min.]