NFU submits comments on COOL

29-09-2008 | |

National Farmers Union responded today to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) interim final rule for mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL), urging the department to implement the law as Congress intended.

NFU has been a steadfast supporter of the labelling law and played a key role in negotiating the compromise that allowed for the provision to be included in the 2008 Farm Bill. However, NFU President Tom Buis expressed several concerns with USDA’s interpretation.

Despite the farm bill’s clear language to the contrary, several large beef packers announced their intent to circumvent COOL by labelling all beef products under the multiple products category, ignoring the exclusively U.S. born, raised and processed category.

“Beef packers want to get around the rules and use what could be referred to as a NAFTA label on their products. There was never any intent to use a NAFTA label when this compromise agreement was reached. U.S. products should be labelled as products of the United States,” Buis said.

“House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte, have both said this is not the intent of the law and Secretary Schafer has agreed. The packers ought to follow the intent of the law.”

Buis urged the department to announce a possible solution before COOL’s October 1 effective date.

Buis said USDA’s interpretation of the labelling for processed food items is much broader than Congress intended. “Congress provided USDA with the latitude to define a processed food item, but did not intend for the definition to be so broad that consumers will be denied country of origin information on a multitude of food items.

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