COLUMBUS – Ohio’s second largest general farm organization leveled a broadside at members of Congress who voted this past week to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and poultry in the United States.
“In an era where food travels around the world indiscriminately, is there a mother in this country, when asked, who would say they don’t care to know where their food comes from?” asked Joe Logan, president of the Ohio Farmers Union.
“Does the chicken they’re putting on the grill tonight come from U.S. producers – with all of their health and safety regs – or does it come from China where health, safety and environmental regulations are an after-thought?”
Logan said OFU and the National Farmers Union have backed COOL since before it was enacted in the 2002 Farm Bill. He said that globalization and the opening of markets made it a necessity for U.S. consumers to know where their food comes from because many other countries don’t have the food safety regulations protecting U.S. consumers.
Logan said that much of U.S. meat production and processing have come under the control of foreign corporations, and American consumers need to be vigilant. The current largest pork processor in the U.S. is Chinese-owned and the second-largest beef processor in the U.S. is Brazilian company JBS.
Late Thursday night, Congressional supporters of these huge, multi-national corporations used a recent World Trade Organization ruling as an excuse to push a repeal of COOL through the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
“The WTO process is not over regarding COOL,” said Logan. “The U.S. has ample time and the administration has signaled it would continue to work with Canada and Mexico on fair and honest labeling requirements in this country.”
“Basically, corporate interests and big money won out this week in Washington – consumers and independent family farmers lost big time,” Logan said.
Logan hopes that the U.S. Senate ignores the House bill.
Logan said that the vote to repeal COOL is important enough for every Ohioan to know where their member of Congress stands when it comes to knowing where their food comes from.
Unless your member of Congress was Joyce Beatty, Marcy Kaptur or Tim Ryan, if you live in Ohio your member voted to take away your right to know where your food comes from.
“In a global economy, information about the foods we eat is essential,” Logan said. “It’s unfathomable how a representative of the people could vote against that.”
Here are a couple of noteworthy links on the background of this issue:
- The most recent consumer poll results are available here: http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/COOL-poll-results-May-2013.pdf
- The Robert Taylor study can be found here: http://www.nfu.org/images/COOLReport1132015Final.pdf
You’ll find in the poll that Americans, when asked, overwhelmingly favor knowing where their meat comes from. You’ll see in the Prof. Robert Taylor study that Canada cannot demonstrate material damage to their own markets as a result of COOL.