FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2015
Contact: Andrew Jerome, 202-314-3106
WASHINGTON (December 16, 2015) – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was deeply frustrated and angered by language that would repeal the popular Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law for not only muscle cuts of beef and pork, but extending to trade-compliant ground beef and ground pork.
“Congress had a solution to make COOL compliant with our World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations sitting on their desks for 5 months,” said Johnson. “Instead, they gave in to demands to completely remove most aspects of COOL for meat that provided meaningful information to the public,” he said. “This is the type of legislative hocus pocus that has angered so many Americans,” he said.
The language to repeal most significant components of COOL is contained as a rider in the 2016 Appropriations Act. Johnson noted that the language goes well beyond the WTO dispute, repealing COOL for ground beef and pork – two products that were explicitly found to be trade compliant.
“Clearly this language was produced by long-time COOL opponents who legislated in the dark of the night under the guise of solving an issue, when really their intentions completely undermine the will of American consumers and producers,” said Johnson. “NFU is furious that yet again the dysfunction of Congress has enabled this to happen.”
Johnson pointed out that voluntary COOL, supported by both sides of the aisle and contained in legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year, would solve the WTO dispute while still maintaining the integrity of the COOL label. With this omnibus language, packers will be able to once again deliberately deceive consumers. He says that having to go the way of a rider is yet another example of Congress’ inability to live up to their promise to restore regular order.
“Year after year, Congress kowtows to well moneyed interests instead of standing up for consumers and family farmers by attaching unpopular provisions – like repeal of COOL – to must-pass appropriations bills,” he said. “This year’s COOL rider is yet another example of the inability of Congress to legislate in the public interest.”
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.