National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Kendal Frazier testified on Capitol Hill in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and warned Congress against using the treaty’s renegotiation to resurrect failed policies like mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).
“Quite frankly, it is difficult to improve upon duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico, and we are pleased to see the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announce its support for continued reciprocal duty-free access,” Frazier told members of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. “Even still, our message remains the same: please do no harm and do not jeopardize our access.”
Frazier pointed out that on average, Canada and Mexico have been two of America’s top five export markets for beef, with approximately $1 billion each in annual sales. While spotlighting the benefits that NAFTA has delivered for cattle and beef producers, Frazier also discussed the ways in which mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling hurt producers when it was tried previously.
“COOL was U.S. law for over six years and failed to deliver on its promises to build consumer confidence and add value for our producers,” Frazier pointed out. “Instead, COOL resulted in a long battle in the World Trade Organization – with the United States facing the promise of more than $1 billion dollars in retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada unless COOL was repealed. Canada and Mexico still have the authority to retaliate against the United States if COOL is brought back into effect – and rest assured they will retaliate against us if necessary.”
“We must learn from the mistakes of the past and not repeat them,” Frazier concluded. “We encourage you to build on the success that current NAFTA provisions have given U.S. beef producers.”