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Advocates Ask Congress Not to Change Origin Labeling in Farm Bill

As the farm bill conference wears on, various Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) advocates are calling on Congress not to make changes to the rule that would limit source information.

On Wednesday, 96 farm, ranch, consumer, rural, labor and faith-based groups sent a letter to conferees expressing opposition to a recent proposal that the “born, raised and slaughtered” production-step labels be replaced with a “product of USA” and “product of North America” label.

“This labeling scheme fails to remedy the critique of the WTO dispute panels because it would perpetuate consumer deception, as the United States is part of North America, and would still require meatpackers to keep all-American born and raised livestock separate from livestock born and/or raised in Canada or Mexico,” the letter read.

The groups, which include the Consumer Federation of America, R-CALF USA, Food & Water Watch and the National Family Farm Coalition, additionally argued that changes to COOL should be made by a public conference committee vote rather than in closed-door conference committee negotiations.

“Any changes to country of origin labeling should occur in full view of the American public with ample debate and recorded votes,” they wrote.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson also sent a letter to the conferees repeating the organization’s priorities for the bill and stating that COOL should not be changed.

“If any harmful changes to COOL are included in the farm bill, it could very likely affect NFU’s ability to support the entire farm bill,” Johnson said.

That position was echoed by the 96 groups, which agreed that many COOL advocates would oppose a farm bill with a North American or NAFTA-meat label.

© Food Safety News
  • Kathy Heinisch

    Consumers want COOL Labels..in the end will the Consumer’s opinion even matter??? The World Trade Organization will hear Canada’s complaint against U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules next month.

    The WTO has scheduled a hearing for the dates of Feb. 19 and Feb. 19 in Geneva.

    Canada is calling into question Washington’s new COOL rules, which it contends are more restrictive and harmful to Canadian beef cattle and pigs imported into the U.S. than an earlier version of the legislation that was found to violate WTO rules.

    Third parties in the dispute include Mexico, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

    For more background, visit the WTO’s dispute settlement page.

  • Oginikwe

    “Any changes to country of origin labeling should occur in full view of
    the American public with ample debate and recorded votes,” they wrote.

    But, but, if they were to do that, we might figure out who is pulling the strings to our disadvantage.