A coalition of 142 consumer, environmental, labor, ranch and faith groups sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s leadership urging the Senate to reject both the Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-KS) bill to repeal country-of-origin labeling and the bill by Sens. Stabenow-Hoeven that would provide for a voluntary COOL program.
The coalition supports the continuation of a mandatory COOL program so consumers will know where their food comes from and producers can identify their livestock as born and raised in America. The coalition said, “It is premature for Congress to unilaterally surrender to saber-rattling from our trading partners in the midst of a long-standing dispute. COOL opponents have highlighted Mexico and Canada’s threats of retaliation as if their aspiration to seek billions of dollars in penalties were already approved by the World Trade Organization. But these unapproved, unrealistically high retaliation claims are merely aggressive litigation tactics designed to frighten the United States, a standard practice in WTO disputes. Congress should not fall for it.”
The coalition “vehemently” opposes repealing COOL but also opposes any effort to “weaken” mandatory COOL by converting it to a voluntary program. The coalition stated, “Voluntary COOL labeling is no solution to the WTO dispute: Meatpackers won’t use it, consumers won’t see it, farmers and ranchers won’t benefit from it and Canada and Mexico have already bluntly rejected this so-called compromise. Voluntary COOL is indistinguishable from repealing COOL.”
Those signing the letter included Catholic Rural Life, Center for Food Safety, Center for Rural Affairs, Consumers Federation of America, Farm Aid, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, National Farmers Organization and R-CALF.