The U.S. House voted this week to postpone the implementation of mandatory County of Origin Labeling (COOL). Opponents claim that the cost of implementing COOL would harm U.S. producers.

The labels “would present a nightmare” of record-keeping and legal costs that consumers would have to bear, said Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, who voted against the labeling.

The industry estimates it could cost as much as $4 billion in the first year.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the House Agriculture Committee chairman, said the labels would do the opposite of what was intended, adding $10 per head of cattle to ranchers’ costs.

“It will make our producers less competitive with foreign meat producers, not more competitive,” said Goodlatte, R-Va.

Depending on who is doing the calculations, estimates for the beef and pork industries combined range from just $200 million to over $7 billion annually. Even the figure cited in the article is for first year expenses. One can assume that the price tag would be significantly less in subsequent years.

But none of this should be a surprise. Food processors and retailers, who oppose the legislation, have given tens of millions of dollars to candidates in recent years.

Update: better add the additional millions given by meat processors in recent years. Money given almost exclusively to Republicans.

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