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National Farmers Union: COOL tariff estimates 'overstated'

National Farmers Union: COOL tariff estimates 'overstated'
National Farmers Union says Country-of-Origin Labeling retaliatory tariff estimates are overstated

Estimates by the Chamber of Commerce and others on retaliatory tariffs submitted to the World Trade Organization in regards to Country-of-Origin labeling are "overstated," National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said last week.

Relate: Senators battle over country-of-origin labeling

"The Chamber [of Commerce] might be pleased to learn that the $3 billion of retaliatory tariffs claimed by our Canadian friends are tremendously overstated," Johnson said in a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

National Farmers Union says Country-of-Origin Labeling retaliatory tariff estimates are overstated (Thinkstock/ra3rn)

"The U.S. Trade Representative recently provided a report to the WTO that highlighted several flaws in the Canadian and Mexican reports and more accurately estimated a level of retaliation closer to $90 million," he said. "That comes out to under $0.28 per person per year in the United States, or about one-third of a penny per pound of beef and pork in the U.S."

NFU prefers voluntary COOL
Johnson said though tariffs appear overstated, they're not a desired outcome. He urged support for the Hoeven-Stabenow amendment for voluntary COOL.

"The voluntary program will allow for those who would like to use an origin label to continue to do so, while preventing labels from being misused or misleading."

The voluntary option is met with another option to fully repeal COOL. According to the USTR, both "have the potential to constitute compliance with U.S. WTO obligations," Johnson said.

Related: COOL decision must 'make Canada and Mexico happy'

Johnson noted that Canada and Mexico may not like the U.S. definition of what a product of the U.S. is, but it is America's sovereign right as a nation to determine and maintain that definition, especially in the context of a voluntary program.

"If packers do not want to segregate, they do not have to. It will not be required, contrary to the Chamber's claim; it is completely voluntary," he said.

"The WTO sees retaliation as a last resort and a temporary solution while parties can work towards a solution that works for everyone. We have found that solution – it is the Hoeven-Stabenow amendment," he said.

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