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Harvest Public Media
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

WTO: COOL Could Lead to $1 Billion Tariffs

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File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media
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Country of origin labels on packages of beef, pork, chicken and other meat are supposed to list where a harvested animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs on more than $1 billion-worth of U.S. goods as a way to compensate for losses brought on by a U.S. labeling law.

The World Trade Organization set the level of retaliation this week, the final step in a long-running dispute over U.S.’s Country-Of-Origin-Labels, or COOL, policy.

As of 2009, retailers must include on meat a label that states where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Meat companies have to track and label products, and Canada and Mexico say that drops demand for their goods.

“Because there’s additional steps those international suppliers have to follow, they end up receiving a lower price for their product than their domestic counterpart,” said Veronica Nigh, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

COOL has always been controversial, as Food and Environment Reporting Network’s Chuck Abbott writes:

Meatpackers and food companies opposed COOL from the start as an expensive, bookkeeping headache and have fought for years to get rid of it. Consumer groups, cow-calf ranchers in the Plains and the National Farmers Union support COOL, arguing that consumers have a right to know where their food is from.

The U.S. House passed a bill in June repealing COOL, but the Senate has yet to vote on the measure. While Senate Agriculture Committee chair Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said he supports full repeal, some prominent members of the committee say they my draft legislation that would allow a voluntary labeling program.

It is not yet clear what products Canada or Mexico could target for retaliatory tariffs, but they could include products outside the agricultural sector.