By MARY CLARE JALONICK
WASHINGTON (AP) — Under threat of trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, the House has voted to to repeal a law requiring country-of-origin labels on packages of beef, pork and poultry.
The World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. appeal last month, ruling the labels that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered are discriminatory against the two U.S. border countries. Both have said they plan to ask the WTO for permission to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on American goods.
The House voted 300-131 to repeal labels that tell consumers what countries the meat is from — for example, "born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States" or "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States."
The WTO ruled against the labels last year. The Obama administration has already revised the labels once to try to comply with previous WTO rulings. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said it's up to Congress to change the law to avoid retaliation from the two countries.
The law was initially written at the behest of northern U.S. ranchers who compete with the Canadian cattle industry. It also was backed by consumer advocates who say it helps shoppers know where their food comes from. Supporters have called on the U.S. government to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to find labels acceptable to all countries.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said repeal would be premature, adding, "Our people deserve a right to know where their food is produced and where it comes from..." (continued)