Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding legislation introduced by Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) that ties repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) to both the elimination of existing market driven programs and the establishment of a so-called voluntary country of origin (COOL) labeling program for beef, pork, and chicken. This new voluntary program would operate under similar rules as the program found to violate U.S. international trade rules.
Chairman Leads Agriculture's Delegation to Trade Talks
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) will lead the agriculture delegation to World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations November 30 through December 3 in Seattle. Combest will lead the delegation of 14 members of the House Agriculture Committee as one of his many steps to ensure that U.S. agriculture and the Committee are fully represented at the onset of the negotiations and throughout the entire process.
As Chairman, Combest has pledged close consultation between the Committee and the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Agriculture during the course of negotiations. In a hearing Wednesday, October 20, Members of the Committee will question USTR Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky and USDA Secretary Dan Glickman in a review of the government's planning for the Seattle negotiations.
"Farmers and ranchers in the United States depend on the worldwide agricultural trade market," said Combest. "The negotiations that begin in Seattle later next month will have a profound impact on United States agriculture. Throughout this process, it is essential that these worldwide trade negotiations proceed under the close scrutiny of the farm sector represented by the Agriculture Committee. World trade can provide greater opportunities for the success of our farmers and ranchers, when the terms are fair to all concerned."
Demonstrating the importance of U.S. agriculture's major role in trade, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has named Combest to his WTO Ministerial Congressional Advisory Group on issues related to United States trade. The group will provide advice on the agenda that the United States will put forward at the negotiations and serve as observers to the U.S. trade team.