Farm groups offer plan for COOL compliance with WTO
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2013 - The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) released Tuesday a legal analysis describing potential options for bringing U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rules into World Trade Organization through changes to USDA regulations.
Essentially, the analysis, completed by the Stewart and Stewart Law Firm of Washington, D.C., said that offering more “thorough information” on labels should bring the U.S. into compliance.
The analysis said the current COOL does not specify the level of detail that COOL labels must provide regarding the origin of muscle cuts. Instead, the statute limits the use of an exclusively U.S. origin label to meat that is derived from an animal that was exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States, specifies that meat from animals that underwent the three production steps in the United States and one or more other countries be labeled with those countries, and requires that meat from an animal that did not undergo any production steps in the United States be labeled with its foreign country of origin.
The analysis said that an origin label that lists the country in which each of the production steps occurred would meet these statutory requirements while also conveying more origin information to consumers and thus improving the measure's compatibility with WTO compliance.
The analysis suggests the following labels:
Label A: “Product of an animal born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States.”
Label B: “Product of an animal born in [Country X], and raised and slaughtered in the United States.”
Label C: “Product of an animal born and raised in [Country X], and slaughtered in the United States.”
Label D: “Product of an animal born, raised, and slaughtered in [Country X].”
In addition, where an animal is raised in more than one country, the B or C label for that animal would read: “Product of an animal born in [Country X], raised in [Country X and Country Y] and slaughtered in the United States.”
USCA said this plan would not create burdens for producers or processors, nor would it require them to collect any additional information.
“In addition, this should not in any way increase consumers' retail prices, and that's a very important point,” said USCA president Jon Wooster.
NFU president Roger Johnson said the analysis “demonstrates that the Department of Agriculture can bring COOL into compliance with the WTO ruling by amending COOL regulations.”
To view the analysis, visit www.uscattlemen.org.
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