Posted November 6, 2013
Lawmakers involved in the farm bill conference are hearing a heated debate over USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations, according to an article by Food Product Design, available here.
Sixty-nine groups including Campbell Soup Company, ConAgra Foods, Inc. and Mars, Inc. recently sent a letter to the House and Senate Agriculture leaders urging them to consider changes to the COOL regulations.  The law requires that retailers disclose the source of certain types of foods. 
The letter stated that jobs and millions of dollars in international commerce are at stake due to a World Trade Organization (WTO) review of the COOL regulations. 
The COOL final rule, available here, became effective on May 23, 2013 and modified certain provisions of the COOL regulations after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations.  The final rule requires labels on certain cuts of meat to provide information on where it was born, raised, and slaughtered. 
Canadian Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, reinforced Canada’s position on COOL, according to a National Hog Farmer article available here.  Ritz stated, “COOL continues to hurt industries on both sides of the border, adding unnecessary red tape, delays, and costs to our integrated North American meat industry.  U.S. legislators have an opportunity now through the Farm Bill to end the economic harm that COOL is having throughout North America.”
Other organizations voiced their support for COOL in a letter to farm bill conferees, according to an article by The Independent available here.  The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America urged the lawmakers to support COOL and oppose any attempt to modify the law through the farm bill. 
Jon Wooster, USCA president, said, “USCA and its allies oppose any effort to derail COOL…It is clearly the wrong approach for those who are dissatisfied with the U.S. law to seek a reversal through the farm bill when everyone, including the WTO, understands that there are important purposes served by providing more information to consumers.”
For more information on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), sign up for an upcoming webinar hosted by the National Agricultural Law Center here.  The National Agricultural Law Center’s Reading Room on the subject is also available here.
Date: Thursday, November 14, from 12 to 1:30 (CST). 
Moderator: Harrison Pittman, Director, National Agricultural Law Center
Presenters:  J. Dudley Butler, Farm and Ranch Law Group
       John Dillard, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz P.C.
Cost: $75 for attorneys seeking CLE credit, $50 for others


Registration information is available here.