July 22, 2018

Politicians May Try to Repeal COOL in Farm Bill

A House-Senate conference committee might try to repeal the country of origin labeling law (COOL), as they are working on a final version of the U.S. farm bill. One of those members, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) said he would support a repeal of the law.

CongressConsumer advocates support COOL because consumers have the right to know where the food they are buying was grown, harvested, and processed. COOL laws cover beef, veal, lamp, pork, goat, chicken, farm-raised fish and shellfish, wild fish and shellfish, peanuts, ginseng, pecans, macadamia nuts, and perishable commodities. A coalition of consumer and farm groups that support COOL sent a letter in October to Farm Bill conferees, asking them to keep the law in place.

COOL was passed into law in 2008. According to a statement on the USDA web site, “the COOL program is neither a food safety or traceability program but rather a consumer information program.” It tells consumers where each of the production steps for cattle, for instance, occur. In some cases, one package of ground beef may contain parts of many animals, which may come from different countries.

The four labeling categories include: Product of the U.S., which is intended for meat from animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S.; Product of the U.S., Country X, which is from animals born in Country X, but raised and slaughtered in the U.S. Another designation is Product of Country X, U.S., which is meat from animals imported into the U.S. for immediate slaughter; and Product of Country X, which is for foreign meat imported into the U.S.

Food & Water Watch has a petition you can sign that asks Senators and Representatives to not repeal or weaken COOL laws. The Farm Bill is approved on a five year basis, and has been since 1965. The 608 page bill covers food stamps, farm subsidies, crop insurance programs, disaster assistance, wetland conservation, trade, rural development, agricultural research, and a myriad of other programs.

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