C O O L   L I B R A R Y
July 12, 2007
 

 

Top Ten Reasons For Country of Origin Labeling in the U.S.

When it comes to country of origin labeling for beef, pork, lamb, vegetables, fruit and peanuts
there are any number of reasons why the law should be implemented.  The U.S. Cattlemen's Association
presents today's Top Ten Reasons for Country of Origin Labeling.

 
#10. COOL may help beef producers world-wide, because U.S. Choice steer prices are typically used as the basis for global prices. If COOL pushes U.S. cattle prices higher, producers in other countries will benefit.

#9. COOL does not prohibit the co-mingling of foreign and domestic beef. Co-mingling is a common practice that utilizes foreign beef along with domestic trim that would otherwise be waste product that would not return value to producers. COOL does not prohibit the co-mingling of beef, it just ensures the information about origin is provided for consumers.

#8. Segregating imported from domestic carcasses isn’t difficult. USDA spokesman Ed Lloyd has assured South Korean officials that separating and distinguishing imported Canadian cattle from U.S. cattle can be easily and efficiently accomplished in U.S. packing plants. In fact, it’s done every day to support market-driven labeling programs like Certified Angus Beef.

#7. Livestock record-keeping doesn’t have to be difficult. It is not true that livestock record-keeping will be costly and burdensome or will risk invasion of privacy. USDA’s new comment period announcement states that changes made in the interim final rule for fish and seafood will be used for other covered commodities. Nothing in the law grants packers or processors the authority to access producer records. In fact, this would be a conflict of interest to allow packers, who have opposed mandatory COOL from its inception, to have authority to audit producer records. The record-keeping provision will be defined during the current comment period. Producers can help shape this rule by becoming engaged in the rule-writing process.

#6. Recent food safety events involving Chinese fish prove the value of COOL. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified certain species of Chinese-produced fish and shellfish as contaminated with drugs banned for use in domestic fish and shellfish production. Because COOL is already in place for fish and shellfish, U.S. consumers have the information they need to make informed purchasing choices.

#5. COOL for fish and shellfish works! A.J. Fabre, President of the Louisiana Shrimp Association said, "The Louisiana Shrimp Association is pleased the COOL regulations are in place so consumers can identify shrimp from China and other countries where health and safety standards are lax. We believe COOL regulations work in tandem with our import standards to keep the public safe. Our government only has the funding to inspect less than two percent of imports, which means consumers must rely on the country of origin label for the shrimp products they purchase."

#4. The USDA Grade Stamp does not guarantee U.S. product. Many consumers confuse the USDA grade stamp as meaning product born and raised in the U.S. when, in reality, the USDA grade stamp does not guarantee exclusive U.S. product.

#3. COOL is not too costly to implement. USDA was forced to reconsider its earlier assumptions that the COOL law would be costly and burdensome to producers after its initial estimates were called into question. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an investigation of USDA’s cost estimates finding USDA’s figures as "questionable and not well supported." Five nationally known and respected agriculture economists working with the University of Florida found that the actual cost of COOL would be "90 to 95 percent less than USDA’s figures."

#2. COOL does not present a trade barrier hindering U.S. beef. A GAO study found that, "most of the USDA attaches for 57 U.S. trading partners surveyed reported their host countries require country of origin labeling for one of more of the commodities covered by the new law; most countries with programs conduct routine inspections and impose fines for labeling violations." Nations utilizing COOL include some of America’s largest trading partners - Canada, Mexico and Japan. Foreign nations routinely utilizing COOL have reaped the economic benefits associated with their access to U.S. beef markets without distinguishing their product from U.S. product.

#1. Consumers want food labeling! Survey after survey proves consumers overwhelmingly support labeling and will pay a premium for labeled products. 86% of consumers surveyed by Fresh Trends favored COOL. 68% of consumers surveyed by North Carolina State University said they would pay more for food grown in the U.S. 75% of consumers surveyed by Colorado State University said they would be willing to pay more for beef with country of origin labeling. U.S. Cattlemen believe the producer’s greatest asset is the consumer and producers want to distinguish their product to support the consumers’ choice.

 

Individuals or organizations wishing to join the Colorado Coalition Opposing Mandatory 4-H and FFA Premises Registration should contact John Reid at 719/446.5210