June 27, 2003
On Thursday, June 26, 2003, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture conducted a hearing to review the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. Commodity groups, producers, retailers and USDA representatives testified before the committee.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) submitted a formal written statement to the House Agriculture Committee for the COOL hearing. ASI reiterated the organization?s long-standing policy in support of positive identification for the origin of lamb at retail. (A copy of the statement is located at the end of this newsletter.)
For the past decade, ASI has worked toward implementing a national system that would ensure consumers? ability to accurately recognize the origin of lamb on the shelves of American supermarkets. ASI?s policy was never aimed in such a way to prevent the importation of foreign lamb ? merely to identify it at retail. Mandatory COOL was designed to provide consumers with the type of assurance they already have with some food products, in that they know where those products originated.
In testimony given by Chuck Lambert, deputy under-secretary of marketing programs for USDA, animal identification was also discussed. The Associated Press reported that Lambert commented, ?The farm industry has been working on a different tracking system for several months. Farm groups are deciding what types of tags or markings to put on animals. He said they aren?t certain if they want the government to require it for all farmers. This labeling system is aimed at giving consumers more information to consider when buying meat, but the industry?s own identification system would be designed to improve food safety from farm to processor.?
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33.