Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., are seeking to force USDA to implement Country of Origin Labeling by next year, a requirement the agency has failed to act upon under current law.
The Wyoming senators sent a letter today along with 29 other senators to the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee urging him to include COOL language in the Farm Bill.
"Because of USDA’s inability over the past five years to create a workable and common-sense rule, now is the time for congressional intervention to ensure the long-awaited implementation of mandatory COOL," the senators wrote in a Sept. 25 letter to Ag Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "The consensus reached by strong COOL proponents and vehement COOL opponents represents a reasonable compromise and finally clears the way to timely and reasonable implementation. The problems and concerns created by USDA among producers, packers and retailers are alleviated by this compromise language."
The senators urged Harkin, who is developing his "chairman’s mark" for the 2007 Farm Bill, to include legislative language agreed to by the House that would mandate labeling be implemented by September 30, 2008. The proposal would require the USDA to do what it has failed to do under current law. Labeling would be required for beef, lamb, pork, and goat products. The House language establishes a three label system for meat products that would differentiate completely domestic products from completely foreign products and another classification for products of foreign origin but processed in the United States.
The Senate Agriculture Committee has held hearings and listening sessions to discuss the Farm Bill. Those hearings have concluded and Chairman Harkin is currently working on developing his Chairman’s proposal for the 2007 Farm Bill that will be considered by the Senate. The House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill on July 27, 2007 by a vote of 231-191.
"Failure of the Senate to include identical language to solidify this agreement from the onset of our farm bill debate creates unnecessary opportunity for some to generate obstacles at a time when great momentum forward has been achieved," the senators wrote.
Enzi and Barrasso believe that COOL will give consumers more options at the grocery store and give Wyoming cattle producers the recognition for the quality goods they provide to their fellow Americans.