The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) submitted a joint letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk, urging a vigorous defense of the country of origin labeling (COOL) law at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
On January 8, NFU and USCA filed joint comments in response to the Dec. 4, 2009, Federal Register Notice regarding the COOL challenge filed by Canada and Mexico with the WTO.
“A close examination of the data and facts surrounding this international challenge of a domestic law reflects that North American livestock trade has been impacted by the volatility in exchange rates, Canadian and U.S. feed prices, climate conditions, escalating transportation costs, competing protein sources, a weakened economy, a subsequent decline in demand for beef products and a substantial decline in Canadian cattle herds,” said USCA President Jon Wooster.
When COOL was mandated by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill, the action fulfilled a decade of work by livestock producers to see their product differentiated in retail cases in a manner that provides meaningful point-of-purchase information to consumers. All sectors of the industry, including production and processing were involved in the sensitive negotiations finalizing the language in the COOL law.
“NFU has been a long-time advocate for COOL, playing a key role in the negotiations that led to its inclusion in the 2008 Farm Bill and working with the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure the law’s implementation and enforcement,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
Of late, twenty-six U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture and the USTR urging a vigorous defense of the COOL law at the WTO.