The Problems and Solutions to the COOL Debacle

When the World Trade Organization issued its final ruling against the US Country of Origin Labeling law the dust started to fly in Washington as well as around the country as the two aggrieved countries, Mexico and Canada issued statements that they’d begin tariff retaliation as soon as possible if COOL wasn’t repealed.  Ron Prestige, of Camden South Carolina’s Prestige Farms and president of the National Pork Producers Council:

“M-COOL, has one huge problem, the M- Mandatory. When the rule was first proposed back in 2002, my opinion was that the mandatory part would require, in cases where the public didn’t really even care, segregation of product, documentation of where animals were born, raised and slaughtered, to the disadvantage to our trading partners. The weaned pigs, feeder cattle, market hogs etc that cross the borders between the US, Canada and Mexico.”

While the calls and actions to repeal COOL before the Mexican and Canadian governments begin trade retaliations, Prestige is quick to point out the COOL and traceability of meat products are mutually exclusive:

“Just because the mandatory COOL is repealed does not mean that meat sold in the US does not have a requirement for traceability, that means that individual animals are identified and they can prove they were not in a diseased area. It’s in the best interest of animal producers to have a system of traceability so if there is a problem it can be traced and solved. That is not an inconsistency of what we would believe with a voluntary COOL, traceability needs to be there, it just isn’t put on the package.”

So, what is the solution to COOL?  Prestige has this:

“There is only one solution that  can fix this, that is WTO compliant and gets us out of trouble and stops costing the producers big money. That is for Congress to repeal it.”

And put a voluntary system in its place:

“It doesn’t mean that will eliminate COOL, it just makes it voluntary and companies can label their products in a way that their customers want the information.”

Treating meat products much like the organic certification and labeling system that’s in place today.

President of the National Pork Producers Council, Ron Prestige, of Camden, South Carolina



A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.