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Published March 25, 2013, 10:34 AM

Speak up to keep COOL

Proposal would amend rules for country of origin labeling.

By: National Farmers Union,

Despite the publication of a favorable proposed rule to change the implementation of country of origin labeling (COOL), packing and processing interests are continuing their assault against providing more information to consumers.

“It’s time for farmers and ranchers to speak up and let their voices be heard. We need to tell our story and convey to policy makers the importance of COOL. People deserve to know where their food comes from,” says Elwood “Woody” Barth, president of the North Dakota Farmer’s Union.

“Consumers want to be able to easily learn the origins of their food and farmers and ranchers should be able to let them know,” says National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. The recently proposed COOL rule, issued in response to challenges from our trading partners in the World Trade Organization, meets the requirements set forth by the WTO and bolsters the accuracy of information provided to consumers.”

The proposed COOL rule would not require producers or processors to collect additional information; nor will it increase food cost to our consumers.

“The packers and packer-producer organizations have cried wolf before. The administration should stand strong and move forward with their proposal,” Johnson says.

The Office of Management and Budget reviewed the proposed rule before it was published in the Federal Register. OMB deemed the rule to be economically insignificant, as its analysis found that the amended COOL rules would not cost more than $100 million. This stands in stark contrast to the shrill claims by packers and processors, who stated as recently as 2009 that COOL would cost $1.058 billion to $1.26 billion for the beef industry and $167.5 million to $228 million for the pork industry, all of which never came true.

“Producers and consumers cannot stand idly by and allow the packers and processors to make false, overblown claims about the costs of COOL,” Johnson says. “I urge farmers, ranchers and everyone who eats to submit comments in favor of the proposed COOL rule.”

Comments must be received by April 11 and should be submitted electronically at www.regulations.com, or to Julie Henderson, Director; USDA, AMS, LPS, COOL Division; 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2620-S; Washington, DC 20250; call 202-720-4486; or fax 202-260-4486.

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