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Trump must decide if COOL is “best for America”

Monday, November 21, 2016 22:31
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As a surrogate speaker last August for then candidate Donald J. Trump, former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen gave a fiery speech to a gathering of independent activist cattlemen from 18 states gathered at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, WY.

He argued passionately for property rights and small business, picking up bursts of applause as he went. During a question and answer session at the end, McEwen said he wanted more information on why Congress ended Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law after it failed to pass muster with the World Trade Organization.

With President-elect Trump’s various transition groups planning the first 100 days of the new administration now comes reports that COOL might be brought back too life in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Were that to happen, it would be a major score for those independent activist cattlemen. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America or R-CALF USA , which was one of the earliest supporters of COOL. Congress killed the program after WTO found it to be a non-tariff barrier to free trade and granted Canada and Mexico permission to impose tariffs on U.S. products as punishment.

But while COOL might well fit Trump’s definition for what is “best for America,” his official Agriculture Advisory Committee with many representatives of mainstream farm groups on it apparently does not want to bring it back. POLITICO’S Morning Agriculture Monday quoted a farm attorney/lobbyist from the powerful Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz, the lawyer/lobbyist firm, as saying COOL will not be making a comeback under President Trump.

Most farm and ranch groups reportedly oppose bringing COOL back from the dead. In addition to R-CALF USA, the free trade group known as the Coalition for a Prosperous America has been pushing COOL to the Trump transition people. Smaller rural progressive groups have also supported COOL in the past.

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