The National Farmers Union is part of a coalition of 229 farm, rural, faith, consumer and environmental organizations from 45 states urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect the integrity of Country of Origin Labeling for meat products.Government officials have wrangled over how to implement COOL since the 2008 Farm Bill, which included mandatory country of origin labels for beef, pork, poultry, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some nuts.
Recently, Canada and Mexico successfully challenged the rules for meat products as a barrier to international trade before the World Trade Organization.
The USDA has issued proposed new rules that simplify and clarify COOL to comply with the WTO decision.
The proposed rules, issued in early March, ensure that all meat from animals born, raised and processed in the United States will bear a “born, raised and slaughtered in the USA” label and eliminating some of the confusing, vague labeling provisions that were highlighted in the WTO ruling.
Even before COOL went into effect, Canada and Mexico challenged the rules at the WTO. The international meatpacking industry still wants COOL eliminated from federal law, the National Farmers Union said in the announcement.
“A regulatory fix is a preferred response to the WTO because the U.S. can preserve its sovereignty while simultaneously improving the accuracy of information conveyed to consumers,” said another supporter, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
The letter was submitted to the USDA as part of the regulatory comment period and sent to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The federal comment period closes on April 11.
The WTO directed USDA to offer new COOL rules by May 23.