With ruling, bakers urgently seek COOL repeal

by Josh Sosland
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Fruits and nuts
While COOL requirements focus principally on fresh beef, pork and lamb, they extend to products often used as baking ingredients, including fruits and nuts.

WASHINGTON — In the wake of a major World Trade Organization action, the American Bakers Association is rallying its members to support efforts to repeal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements.

According to the W.T.O. ruling, country-of-origin labeling requirements, part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, violate international trade obligations. The W.T.O. said Canada and Mexico may seek more than more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports. While COOL requirements focus principally on fresh beef, pork and lamb, they extend to products often used as baking ingredients, including fruits and nuts. The rules require retailers to notify customers about the source of certain foods. The A.B.A. said retaliatory measures could include “a possible 100% tax on baked goods and ingredients.”

Mike Goscinski, A.B.A.
Mike Goscinski, manager, government relations and public affairs at the A.B.A.

“Bakers in the United States have already heard from their customers indicating that should retaliation go into effect; they will be forced to do business elsewhere,” said Mike Goscinski, manager, government relations and public affairs at the A.B.A. “Once those buyer/supplier relationships are broken, they are rarely repaired.”

The W.T.O. said Canada will be able to apply $781 million in tariffs on U.S. products and Mexico may impose tariffs of $228 million. Those two countries had sought tariffs totaling $3 billion.

With the W.T.O. decision, Mr. Goscinski said it is “imperative” that the COOL requirements be repealed in an omnibus spending package and urged bakers to communicate the importance of the action with their congressional representatives as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Appropriations Committee chairman Thad Cochran, and vice-chairman Barbara Mikulski. A vote on the spending bill is expected Dec. 11.
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