The huge, multi-national packers and processors and their apologists at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association continue to spread disinformation about Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).
Since the USDA issued its newer, World Trade Organization-compliant COOL requirement here in the U.S., several allies of the industrial livestock industry led by Canada and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assoc. have filed suit to stop COOL. They are also working behind the scenes in Congress at every opportunity – and further muddying the waters in Farm Bill negotiations – to rollback COOL.
The National and Ohio Farmers Unions support COOL and Americans’ right to know from where their center of their plate originates. The fact is, U.S. food safety standards from farm to grocery store shelf instill confidence in American consumers. We have the right to know if our meat was processed or raised in China or another country where regulations are weak. Many consumers also want to make the economic choice to buy only U.S. raised and processed foods. Without COOL, they are missing an important decision-making tool.
Here are a few facts about COOL that counter some of the arguments being made in opponents’ anti-consumer (and anti-American) campaign:
- The U.S. never conceded to the WTO before being directed to do so by a dispute panel.
- Changing COOL at this time in the middle of a court case would be letting Canada tell us whether or not U.S. laws are WTO compliant. Sovereignty anyone?
- Canada fought the U.S. softwood lumber trade dispute for 24 years – without giving in to the WTO. Why should Canada expect the U.S. to fold on COOL?
- The WTO found that the COOL law was international trade-compliant, but the way in which it was implemented was not. USDA worked with the U.S. Trade Representative to fashion a rule that complies. Outside of the Canadian supported lawsuit, that’s where we stand today.
- Ninety percent of U.S. consumers support COOL.
- The new COOL rules have already beat the Canadians and multi-national packers in the first round of legal wrangling over the new rule. COOL opponents have since expanded their fight into Congress to try to scare members into premature and unwarranted legislative action because they see the writing on the wall: meatpackers’ chances of winning COOL challenges at the WTO and in court are slim.
- Write your member of Congress and Senators Brown and Portman a letter or email in support of COOL. Also, consider donating to the COOL legal defense fund at www.uscooldefensefund.org.
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