The World Trade Organization is expected to rule Dec. 7 on the amount Canada and Mexico can claim for retaliation against the U.S. for its Country-of-Origin labeling rule.
The rule requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.
Canada and Mexico have asked for $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs and National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall says that's likely to be the final number.
When the number is released Dec. 7, however, he expects it will take about 10 days to put in the mechanisms required to implement the tariffs.
"We have a narrow window of opportunity here to try to get Congress to finally act to repeal COOL," Woodall said. "It's all about repeal right now … there is no other language that is going to be satisfactory to Canada and Mexico, and the honest truth is they have all the leverage right now."
Because WTO has given the two countries authority to retaliate, the U.S. has to make them happy, Woodall says.
"It's no longer about what we might be able to compromise on here internally in the United States, it's about what they will accept," Woodall said.
While the House has repealed COOL, the Senate has yet to act.
Effects on the beef industry
Exports add about $350 per marketed head, Woodall said, with a third focused on Canada and Mexico. Because the proposed tariff is 100%, the U.S. should expect to lose access to Canada and Mexico.
"The Canadians continue to tell us that with their calculations that equates to about a 10 cent per pound loss for producers," Woodall said.