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Stabenow releases voluntary country-of-origin labeling proposal

Stabenow releases voluntary country-of-origin labeling proposal
Proposal floated in advance of Thursday's hearing on COOL in the Senate Ag Committee

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, on Wednesday released a draft proposal to remove beef and pork mandatory labeling provisions under the U.S. country-of-origin rule and put in its place a voluntary Product of the U.S. label.

The Senator billed the proposal as a "pathway to finding a solution on country of origin labeling."

Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., (right) talks with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on Oct. 30, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"COOL serves an important role for consumers and industry. However, the WTO has been clear that we must find a solution that is consistent with our international trade obligations," Stabenow said in a statement. "This proposal offers a viable alternative and I look forward to discussing it at our hearing and with my colleagues in the Senate as we work to come to agreement on a bipartisan solution."

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

In May 2015, the WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico in their case against the U.S. COOL rule. The two countries have formally indicated their intention to retaliate, estimating retaliatory measures at about $3.7 billion.

Retaliatory tariffs could appear as soon as the end of August. Those tariffs may be placed on a variety of products, like meat, produce, live animals and even wooden office furniture, Canadian officials say.

COOL hearing scheduled for Thursday
Stabenow released today's draft proposal in advance of Thursday's hearing entitled Country of Origin Labeling and Trade Retaliation: What's at Stake for America's Farmers, Ranchers, Businesses and Consumers.

Scheduled speakers include Barry Carpenter, CEO, North American Meat Institute, Washington, D.C.; Craig Hill, President, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation on behalf of American Farm Bureau Federation, Milo, Iowa; Leo McDonnell, Executive Officer and Director Emeritus for the United States Cattlemen’s Association, Rhame, N.D.; Jaret Moyer, President, Kansas Livestock Association, Emporia, Kan.; Jim Trezise, President, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Canandaigua, N.Y.; and Chris Cuddy, Senior Vice President and President of ADM’s Corn Processing Business Unit, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Decatur, Ill.

The hearing will be webcast live on the Senate website at 9 a.m. CT Thursday, June 25.

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