Stockgrowers commend senators for defending COOL
Thirty-two Senators, including South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune, signed a letter Oct. 6, urging the Senate Appropriations committee to reject any attempts to gut Country of Origin Labeling through the budget process. The letter was authored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and sent to the chair and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.
“As the end of the fiscal year approaches, we urge you to reject efforts to weaken or suspend Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) through any continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill,” the Senators wrote. “COOL has overwhelming public and producer support but its implementation has been challenged in an international trade dispute for more than five years. It is critical that Congress not short-circuit ongoing efforts to support American producers and consumers.”
Stockgrowers President Bob Fortune agrees. “COOL is an important program for our ranches to proudly label the beef and lamb that is born and raised here in the United States. We cannot allow the Senate to gut such an important program through an appropriations rider. We’re thankful for the strong support from Senators Johnson and Thune to protect COOL by adding their names to this letter.”
While COOL was originally implemented in 2008 to require labeling of beef, lamb, pork and poultry products, the program has continued to be challenged by foreign countries and meat packing interests in the United States. COOL opponents have continued attempts to file legal challenges and introduce legislation that would halt COOL and stop its implementation. Most recently, the Senate has been asked to consider an appropriations rider that would repeal COOL depending on the outcome of the World Trade Organizations ruling.
The letter sent this week states, “The Senate should not undermine the United States’ position by inserting a legislative rider into an appropriations bill before the WTO process is final.” The letter continues by saying that the Senate should not allow rumors to “pre-emptively weaken U.S. law.”
“We don’t know what the WTO will rule on COOL and there are several possible scenarios where the United States will win the case on COOL or at least be allowed an opportunity to make sure COOL is compliant with our trading partners. But throwing the entire program out before we even know what the WTO will rule is not an acceptable option,” said Fortune. “The members of the Stockgrowers Association really appreciate Senator Thune and Johnson’s support of Country of Origin Labeling.”
–South Dakota Stockgrowers Association