US - National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson argues in a recent Politico op-ed that the opponents of Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL), having lost their battles on both the ideological front as well as in the courts, are now trying have the law gutted in the name of 'reform'.
“Since its passage, COOL has been under full frontal assault both domestically and abroad in an attempt to have the law thrown out in the US courts or by the World Trade Organisation. With the efficacy of those lines of attack in question, COOL opponents are now trotting a Trojan horse around Capitol Hill, and naming it COOL “reform.”
But don’t be fooled by a name, because the ‘reform’ they are offering would actually eviscerate the labeling law of all common sense and utility and leave it meaningless,” notes Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson explains that consumers love COOL because they are concerned – and rightfully so – where their food comes from. According to a May 2013 public opinion poll, more than 90 per cent of consumers support COOL.
And farmers and ranchers, who raise this nation’s livestock and fresh vegetables, love COOL as well, because they’re rightfully proud of what they produce. In essence, they want to have their fingerprint on the product.
“So who could possibly be against this popular, common-sense labeling law?” Mr Johnson asks. “The multinational meat industry has sued USDA and had their case tossed out three times. But with the deep pockets of the multinational meat barons, the sky is the limit on how many more times they might take a shot at the appeal process.”
Mr Johnson explains that the crux of the meat industry’s argument is that COOL will force them to segregate animals from different countries before the animals are processed so that the meat products can be labelled accordingly. This, they say, will be too burdensome and costly for them.
“It’s simply not believable that an industry that can come up with the idea of using carbon monoxide packaging to extend the shelf life of its meat products can’t figure out how to segregate cattle,” he says. “In North Dakota, we put a fence around them and that works pretty well for us.”
Mr Johnson explains that in the name of ‘reform,’ lobbyists representing these industries will be blanketing Congress with a request to “reform” COOL by labelling all fresh meats from the US, Canada, and Mexico as ‘Made in North America.’ “That’s just about as useful as labeling it “Made in this solar system,” he says.
Next week, hundreds of farmers – all National Farmers Union members coming into town for the annual fly-in – will descend on Congress to let them know that the “Made in USA” label still means quality and to not succumb to the sales pitch from the Trojan Horse of ‘Reform.’
“American farmers and ranchers raise the best meat and vegetables in the world, and they are proud to have their products labelled accordingly,” he notes.
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