U.S. Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent delays on a law that would help consumers identify where meat and other food products originate.

S. 1331 would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to move up the date of implementation for country of origin labeling (COOL) from September 2006 to January 2006. The original COOL legislation was included in the 2002 Farm bill and mandated that all meats, fruits and vegetables be labeled with their country of origin.

“The debate over country of origin labeling is becoming an increasingly heated issue. I was an original author of COOL in the 2002 Farm Bill. I continue to strongly support mandatory COOL. I believe most consumers support mandatory labeling. A 2003 GAO report said that 57 countries currently require labeling on several of the commodities covered by our COOL law. The opponents of labeling continue to work to eliminate mandatory COOL entirely – we will continue to push back those efforts. Mike and I will continue to do all we can to see that mandatory COOL is implemented,” said Thomas, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“Country of origin labeling was signed into law three years ago but consumers are still not able to identify where their meat is from. The time has come to implement the law and extinguish delay tactics that are only hurting the American consumer,” said Enzi. “The House has tried time and time again to delay implementation and those efforts will be met with opposition from the Wyoming delegation time and time again. This bill provides a realistic date of implementation and should be passed as soon as possible.”

House opponents of COOL added language in the House Agricultural Appropriations bill to delay COOL beyond September of next year. Thomas and Enzi said the bill they introduced today is a counteroffensive to this action.

Thomas and Enzi are also urging the United States Department of Agriculture to issue an interim final rule for COOL in order to smooth the transition to implementation of the labeling law.

Eight total Senators originally sponsored the bill: Sen. Johnson – sponsor; Thomas – lead Republican co-sponsor; also, Sens. Enzi, Dorgan, Burns, Bingaman, Thune, and Baucus – all original co-sponsors.