WASHINGTON (June 27, 2017) – Kevin Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher and president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – the oldest and largest national association of cattlemen – today testified in support of the market access that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has delivered for America’s cattle producers, and warned against the re-adoption of failed policies that harmed the industry in the past.
“NCBA strongly supports NAFTA because the terms of NAFTA developed Canada and Mexico into two very important export markets for U.S. beef,” Kester testified at a hearing hosted by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Quite frankly, it is difficult to improve upon duty-free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico—so please do no harm and do not jeopardize our access.”
Kester pointed out that Canada and Mexico have become two of the top five export markets for U.S. beef producers, accounting for approximately $1 billion each in annual sales. Kester also warned USTR’s NAFTA negotiators to beware protectionist calls to resurrect failed policies of the past, such as mandatory country-of-origin labeling, also known as COOL.
“COOL was U.S. law for over six years and failed to deliver on its promises to build consumer confidence and add value for our producers,” Kester pointed out. “Instead, COOL resulted in a long battle in the World Trade Organization with the United States facing the promise of $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada unless COOL was repealed by Congress. Canada and Mexico still have the authority to retaliate against the United States if COOL is brought back into effect—and rest assured they will retaliate against us if necessary.”