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Beef case at a grocery store Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Montana senator working to bring COOL back

Legislative Watch: Tester introduces resolution; "Product of the U.S.A." eligibility; RCEP negotiations conclude; USDA internships announced; MFP second payment.

In an effort to bring back country-of-origin labeling, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has introduced a Senate resolution to support reinstating mandatory COOL for beef and pork.

Tester said, "Our farmers and ranchers produce the best agricultural products in the world. Consumers want to buy those American-made products, and country of origin labeling lets producers show their product was raised right here in America and ensures folks can make informed choices about the food they buy."

Congress repealed mandatory COOL in 2015 for pork and beef after the WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico's case against the U.S. saying COOL discriminated against meat imports.  If Congress had failed to repeal COOL, Canada and Mexico had the right to retaliate against the U.S. with $1.1 .billion in tariffs.  COOL is still required for lamb, poultry, fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables.

Product of the U.S.A.
The "U.S. Beef Integrity Act'' introduced by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) would require that for beef to be eligible for a "Product of the U.S.A." label, the animal from which the beef is derived would have to be born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. 

Senator Thune and Rounds sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue supporting the U.S. Cattlemen's Association petition requesting the Food Safety and Inspection Service require beef to be derived from an animal that was born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be eligible for the "Product of the U.S.A." label.

Currently, if the animal is processed in the U.S. it can receive a "Product of the U.S.A." label from USDA's FSIS.

RCEP negotiations conclude
​​​​​​Fifteen countries have concluded the trade negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and plan to sign the agreement next year. The RCEP trade agreement represents one-third of the world's gross domestic product. 

The RCEP countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. India participated in the negotiations but has decided not to join in the agreement because of "outstanding issues."

USDA internships announced
USDA has announced its OneUSDA Internship Program for the summer of 2020. This program will provide university students the opportunity to gain work experience in a number of USDA areas, including agriculture, rural development and natural resources.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said, "Our goal at USDA is to recruit the best and retain the best through our OneUSDA Internship Program offered nationwide. Today's young people are the future of America and there are few things more American than agriculture. We're aiming to find young talent, with a diverse background, across all 50 states, to begin their careers as interns with USDA."

MFP second payment
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue yesterday told a group of reporters that USDA is preparing to make the second round of Market Facilitation Program payments. Farmers should be receiving the payments later this month or early December. 

Earlier USDA released the first round of payments worth $7.5 billion.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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