Consumers and Farmers Urge USDA to Protect COOL10 April 2013
US - Consumers and farmers overwhelmingly support strengthened Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) rules, as demonstrated by more than 35,600 petition signatures sent to the US Department of Agriculture demanding that the integrity of COOL be protected in the face of World Trade Organization (WTO) scrutiny.
"People have the right to know where the food they feed their families comes from and the proposed COOL rules significantly improve the disclosure of information to consumers"
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch
National Farmers Union (NFU) joined three other national advocacy groups to deliver electronic petitions on the recently proposed COOL rules as part of the regulatory comment period, which ends 11 April.
"The outpouring of support for COOL makes it clear that USDA is doing the right thing by proposing strengthened and more informative labels," National Farmers Union President, Roger Johnson said.
In addition to NFU, the petitions were delivered by the consumer group Food & Water Watch and the farm organizations Western Organization of Resource Councils and R-CALF USA.
"People have the right to know where the food they feed their families comes from and the proposed COOL rules significantly improve the disclosure of information to consumers," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
The advocacy groups were instrumental in the long-standing efforts to include COOL in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills to ensure that commonsense COOL labels were implemented.
"As confirmed by tens of thousands of petitioners, COOL is not a special interest issue: it is a fundamental right for consumers," said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA. "Secretary Vilsack should promptly finalize these rules that protect the integrity of country-of-origin labels."
In 2008, Canada and Mexico launched a successful challenge to the COOL rules at the WTO. The advocacy groups supported a regulatory solution that addressed the WTO concerns and maintained the integrity of COOL by improving the clarity of the labels for consumers.
"Ranchers have felt we produce the best beef and these good COOL reforms guarantee consumers can find our product," concluded Weiser, Idaho rancher Mabel Dobbs, Chair of the Western Organization of Resource Council’s Ag and Food Campaign Team. "We’ve worked for over a decade to get COOL and we’re not about to give up defending it now."
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