A coalition of 229 farm, rural, faith, consumer and environmental organizations from 45 states, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), delivered a letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect the integrity of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat products.
The 2008 Farm Bill included mandatory COOL provisions for lamb, beef, pork, poultry, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some nuts, but Canada and Mexico successfully challenged the implemented rules for meat products at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a barrier to international trade. USDA issued proposed new rules to clarify COOL to comply with the WTO decision.
The proposed rules that USDA issued in early March strengthen the COOL labels by requiring that all meat from animals born, raised and processed in the United States will bear a "born, raised and slaughtered in the USA" label instead of "Product of the USA."
"The only acceptable way to respond to the WTO challenge is to make labels more informative for consumers, not water them down," the coalition wrote. "U.S. farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and should be allowed to promote their products. Consumers deserve clear, direct and informative labels. Providing more accurate labels with more information is a win-win situation for producers and consumers alike."
The letter in its entirety is available at www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/COOL_coalition_letter_04_02_13.pdf.
ASI last week submitted comments in support of COOL and encourages producer leaders to do the same before the April 11 deadline. To submit comments, go to www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=AMS-LS-13-0004-0001.
Reprinted in part from Feedstuffs