National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says that unfortunately for American consumers and producers, mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling, or COOL, is a dead man walking.
Johnson explains that voluntary COOL is an option that will not only defang the WTO ruling, and has already been offered as a good alternative by both Canada and Mexico as well as the U.S. Trade Representative…
“Canada and Mexico both suggested the adoption of a voluntary system for COOL labeling during the WTO dispute process that was just resolved. The US Trade Representative has noted that repealing the COOL system and replacing it with a volunteer system has the potential to constitute compliance with WTO obligations.”
Johnson says the only other option on the table is a bill sponsored by Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts that would repeal COOL completely and open up meat labels to chaos:
“There are only 2 options that we are presented with- the Holden-Stabenow bill that maintains the integrity of COOL and fulfills the WTO obligations and then there is the Roberts bill that repeals COOL and leaves us with no uniform way to distinguish where our meat comes from. Should the Roberts bill pass, multi-national meat packers would be able to go back to deceiving consumers that foreign meat was a product of the US even when it was not. The Holden-Stabenow alternative would prevent those packers from such deceptive practices by requiring that any meat be labeled as a product of the US it must come from an animal that was born, raised, and slaughtered in the US.”
Johnson says that the preservation of food labeling and the removal of deceptive practices by multi-national meat packers rests now in the Hoeven-Stabenow compromise for COOL.
Johnson notes National Farmers Union has championed COOL and other food labeling issues for decades, and that the organization still supports mandatory COOL, but that the Hoeven-Stabenow compromise is the only politically viable solution to retain some semblance of clear and accurate food labeling…
“This bill is the only game in town. It is the only means to prevent Congress from completely stripping away a label for livestock born, raised and slaughtered in the US. It mandates the development of a clear strong and honest Made in the USA label that we know consumers want. Consumer win, producers win and the WTO ruling would become a mute point.”
NFU advocates for the economic and social well-being and quality of life of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and consumers and their communities through education, cooperation and legislation. National Farmers Union advocates the sustainable production of food, fiber, feed and fuel. Find out more at www.nfu.org.