Senators Call for Work to Bring U.S. COOL Into Compliance
A bipartisan coalition of Senators is calling on USDA and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to work with consumers, ranchers and meatpackers to ensure American families know where their food comes from. Montana's Jon Tester is leading the coalition. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson is thanking Tester for his work in garnering support for country-of-origin labeling - or COOL - compliance. Johnson says consumers have a right to know where their food comes from and U.S. farmers and ranchers what to be able to tell them.
The World Trade Organization is requiring USDA to adjust its COOL rules. According to the WTO - the U.S. can require labeling of meat, but the current rules don't meet WTO standards. The U.S. was given until May 23rd of this year to bring its COOL rules into compliance. NFU's Johnson says USDA and USTR should take even stronger regulatory actions to make sure COOL provides meaningful information about the origins of meat and other products.
The coalition of Senators - in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk - say Congress intended that COOL provide as much information as possible about the origin of all meat cuts to consumers. They say some flexibility is needed - but such flexibility can't come at the expense of providing reliable information to families about the national origin of meat products. The bipartisan coalition also is encouraging USDA to host a public comment period so ag workers and consumers can weigh in on any new proposals.
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