Waco, TX (Sept. 17, 2008) – Texas Farmers Union said today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) interpretation of the 2008 Farm Bill’s country of origin labeling (COOL) provision leaves a loophole that will circumvent the intent of the labeling law.
The farm bill language explicitly states exclusively born, raised and processed U.S. animals cannot be used in the multiple country category (category 2). This loophole will allow packers to label exclusively American products with those from other countries.
“Livestock producers want a label that accurately identifies their product. Producers who raise animals exclusively I the United States deserve to have a label that is fair, accurate and follows the letter and spirit of the law passed by Congress,” Texas Farmers Union President Wes Sims said.
Farmers Union was a key player in reaching the compromise agreement that paved the way for COOL’s implementation. The agreement creates four labeling categories:
1. Products exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States would be labeled as U.S. product;
2. Products from animals that were not exclusively born, raised and processed in the United States and not imported for immediate slaughter be labeled with all countries in which the animal may have been born, raised or processed.
3. An animal that was imported for immediate processing may be labeled as a product of the importing country and the United States; and
4. Animals that were born, raised and processed in a foreign country will be labeled as a product of the country of origin.
“I am disappointed that the large beef packers would try to circumvent the COOL when all the interested parties already came together for a compromise agreement that benefits both producers and consumers all the while providing flexibility to the packers,” Sims said.
Despite COOL’s inclusion in the 2002 Farm Bill, the provision was never implemented. Cool is scheduled to go into effect October 1, 2008.
|Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556|