The National Farmers Union reported earlier this month that the Obama Administration’s Office of Management and Budget has released the proposed new rule on Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL.
COOL came under fire from a recent World Trade Organization ruling and the administration has been working toward re-tooling the policy to meet U.S. trade treaty criteria.
“The proposed rule changes released by OMB are an excellent response to decisions by the World Trade Organization that called for changes to our COOL implementation,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “By requiring further clarity in labels and stronger recordkeeping, the set of rules released today are a win-win for farmers, ranchers and consumers.”
Under the proposed rule, origin designations for animals slaughtered in the United States would be required to specify the production steps of birth, raising, and slaughter of the animal. In addition, this proposed rule would eliminate the allowance for any commingling of muscle cut covered commodities of different origins. These changes will provide consumers with more specific information about muscle cut covered commodities.
“The proposed rule is consistent with the legal analysis commissioned by NFU and other producer and consumer allies,” said Johnson.
Johnson and NFU are also saying that to keep this favorable COOL rule, farmers and ranchers will need to speak up.
“Consumers want to be able to easily learn the origins of their food and farmers and ranchers should be able to let them know,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. The recently proposed COOL rule, issued in response to challenges from our trading partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO), meets the requirements set forth by the WTO and bolsters the accuracy of information provided to consumers.”
The proposed COOL rule would not require producers or processors to collect additional information; nor will it increase food cost to our consumers.
“The packers and packer/producer organizations have cried wolf before. The administration should stand strong and move forward with their proposal,” said Johnson
In February, NFU and other groups released a legal analysis that details the available options for successful U.S. compliance of the WTO’s ruling on COOL. The analysis concluded that an effective way of complying with the WTO decision is to provide more information and more accurate details to consumers. It would not require producers or processors to collect additional information; nor will it increase food cost to our consumers as OMB has determined the changes are not economically significant.
Notice of the proposed rule will be posted in the March 11, 2013, Federal Register. Comments must be received by April 11, 2013, and should be submitted electronically at www.regulations.com, or to Julie Henderson, Director; USDA, AMS, LPS, COOL Division; 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2620-S; Washington, DC 20250; telephone number (202) 720-4486; or fax (202) 260-4486.