Members to the Farm Bill Conference Committee received competing letters this week from two camps representing opposite views on Country-of-Origin-Labeling (COOL).
One side, joined by the American Sheep Industry Association, reminded the committee that Congress made COOL the law of the land in the 2008 Farm Bill. It states that in its World Trade Organization (WTO) revision, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) followed a carefully considered process as it crafted changes to the rule, which provides consumers with additional information on where each of the production steps for livestock -- born, raised and slaughtered -- occurs.
In the other corner, the argument centers around whether or not WTO will deem the revised legislation as compliant with WTO standards. These organizations defend the stance by Canada and Mexico that this change is more discriminatory than the previous labeling scheme.
USDA's changes to the COOL rule are currently being evaluated on two fronts - one by WTO, based on an appeal by Canada and Mexico, and one by the courts, based on a lawsuit brought against USDA by various agriculture organizations.