NFU responds to anti-COOL letter, celebrates court victory

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2014 - National Farmers Union is staying the course in its pursuit for country-of-origin labeling (COOL), celebrating a recent court decision and urging Congress to ignore calls for a repeal of the law.

NFU first asked Congress to ignore a letter sent yesterday by more than 100 agricultural stakeholders asking Congress to rescind the meat provisions in COOL. On Oct. 20, the World Trade Organization ruled these provisions non-compliant with international trade obligations. NFU President Roger Johnson called the letter “overblown rhetoric” from organizations he claims are on the losing side of the battle.

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“This letter was organized by groups who have opposed COOL from day one and demonstrates that they understand they have lost the battle over this issue in the public arena,” Johnson said in a release.

Johnson said the WTO process has not fully played out, so “there is simply no rush to take rash action.”

“Given the length of the WTO process and the variable outcomes that are possible for COOL, there is no reason for Congress to be stampeded into rash action based on fear mongering,” Johnson said.

NFU also said COOL achieved its fourth victory in the U.S. court system today. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today dismissed a petition filed by multinational meat packers for a rehearing on its challenge to COOL enforcement. Johnson was pleased with the decision, saying the courts “sided with consumers, farmers, and their allies.”

“We urge the multinational meat industry to drop the senseless litigation and allow the law to be enforced,” Johnson said.

Congress approved COOL during the deliberation of the 2008 Farm Bill. Opponents to the legislation say it is difficult to enforce because of the global nature of the beef industry. They also claim it has the potential for retaliatory trade action after WTO's ruling that action from USDA to bring meat rules into WTO compliance increased the “detrimental impact on the competitive opportunities of imported livestock in the U.S. market.”

NFU continues to urge the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to appeal the decision, saying consumers “have been crystal clear that they want to know where their food comes from.”

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