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USDA should close labeling loopholes

BILLINGS, Mont. -- In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America has expressed its gratitude for Vilsack and Kirk's action th...

BILLINGS, Mont. -- In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America has expressed its gratitude for Vilsack and Kirk's action that recently blocked both Canada's and Mexico's complaints filed with the World Trade Organization against the United States' country-of-origin labeling law.

The nations pledged to work with the pair in any way possible to ensure that both U.S. livestock producers and consumers are accorded the benefits of accurate food labeling as Congress directed.

"Though it is unfortunate that Canada and Mexico have chosen to interfere with our nation's sovereign right to provide U.S. consumers with accurate information that identifies the origins of their food, it should not be forgotten that the COOL regulations still contain unacceptable loopholes, including the loophole that allows whole muscle cuts of meat from animals exclusively born, raised and slaughtered in the United States to be effectively mislabeled with a mixed-country label," writes Max Thornsberry, R-CALF USA president and region VI director.

"We hope the U.S. Department of Agriculture will quickly initiate rulemaking to close this and other inappropriate loopholes," he continues. "A rulemaking to address the specific concerns outlined in the joint letter sent by 32 U.S. Senators to former Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer on Sept. 25, 2008, may negate the WTO's insistence that it has jurisdiction over this matter. Such rulemaking would effectively provide both Canada and Mexico a more appropriate forum -- one on par with the citizens of the United States -- to express their concerns and recommendations regarding the COOL law within our domestic rulemaking process."

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