Legal analysis of Country of Origin Labeling implementation rules released
The United States Cattlemen's Association and the National Farmers Union have released a legal analysis detailing the options available for bringing the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling implementation rules into compliance with a recent World Trade Organization ruling on COOL. The analysis, completed by the Stewart and Stewart Law Firm of Washington, D.C., outlines regulatory remedies responding to WTO concerns with how COOL is implemented. USCA has been adamant throughout the WTO challenge brought by Canada and Mexico that legislative action is not an appropriate response to the WTO ruling and that the law can be brought into compliance with simple regulatory changes.
The WTO ruling affirmed the U.S. right to require origin labeling, but said that in order to achieve the legitimate goal of providing information to consumers, more thorough information should be provided on labels. The legal analysis, commissioned in part by USCA, concludes that an effective method of complying with the WTO decision is to simply provide more information and more accurate details to consumers. This will not create any addition burden on producers or processors, nor will it require them to collect any additional information. It will merely require tightening the implementation rules so that information to the consumer is increased. "In addition," noted Jon Wooster, USCA president, "this should not in any way increase consumers' retail prices, and that's a very important point."
"This comprehensive legal analysis demonstrates that the Department of Agriculture can bring COOL into compliance with the WTO ruling by amending COOL regulations," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "Changes to the COOL legislation are not necessary to achieve compliance. U.S. producers are rightfully proud of their products and consumers want to know where their food comes from. Achieving compliance is a win-win situation for all interested parties."
Wooster concurred saying, "We stand in support of tightening U.S. COOL regulations that will provide more information to consumers about the origin of their beef. USCA members are proud of, and confident in, their U.S.-raised product and they want to be able to differentiate it in retail cases. We are extremely pleased with the remedies this analysis suggests and the fact that they preserve Congress' original intent when it passed the labeling law."
The legal analysis can be found at www.uscattlemen.org.
COOL was passed as part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and amended in the 2008 Farm Bill, going into effect in 2008 and implementation in 2009.
Established in March 2007, USCA is committed to concentrating its efforts in Washington, DC to enhance and expand the cattle industry's voice on Capitol Hill. USCA has a full-time presence in Washington, giving cattle producers across the country a strong influence on policy development. For more information go to www.uscattlemen.org.