Earlier this week, we reported that several U.S and Canadian livestock and meat groups have filed a suit to block the USDA’s latest country of origin labeling (COOL) law on constitutional and statutory grounds. Since then, pro-COOL organizations have issued statements in opposition to that action.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson says the lawsuit is another in a series of delaying tactics. “Time and again, many organizations that represent or are heavily influenced by meatpackers have dragged their feet when it comes to COOL,” he says. “They prevented COOL from being implemented after the 2002 Farm Bill, tried to block it following the 2008 farm bill, and now are suing to stop the revised COOL rules from taking effect. Such delaying and stalling tactics only serve to deprive their customers of important information about the products they buy.
“Farmers, ranchers, consumers, and perhaps even the processors themselves would be much better served if meatpackers complied with the new rules that were written to World Trade Organization guidelines and approved by the administration. The American public deserves and wants to know where their food comes from and the new COOL rule ensures that they do.”
R-CALF USA meanwhile, issued a release claiming some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are illegally using Checkoff funds to support the litigation. "Either directly or indirectly, producer checkoff dollars are helping the meatpacker-lobby to fight against the widely popular COOL law that U.S. livestock producer and U.S. consumers successfully passed in 2002," says R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
Specifically, the group notes that among the plaintiffs, the NCBA receives Beef Checkoff funds, the National Pork Producers Council receives Pork Checkoff dollars and the North American Meat Association has submitted proposals for Beef Checkoff funding.
"Although the NCBA may not be directly paying their COOL litigation expenses with checkoff funds, the checkoff funds allow it to offset a large portion of its organization's administrative expenses, which allows it to devote its more limited non-Checkoff money toward fighting COOL and other initiatives the multinational meatpackers do not like," Bullard says.
"The reason the NCBA and NPPC are fighting to help the meatpackers exploit consumers by attacking COOL is because they both have meatpackers seated on their governing boards,” he adds, “making them meatpacker trade groups rather than producer trade groups."
For more about the lawsuit, read “Groups file suit, say COOL rule violates U.S. Constitution.”