By Kent Peppler, president, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
Although Congress passed a law requiring that meats have their origins on their label in 2002, corporate interests in the U.S. and our chief trade competitors – Canada and Mexico – have tried every trick imaginable to block the country-of-origin-labeling law from staying on the books.
Now, after losing in the U.S. courts on three separate occasions, the WTO is set to issue a final decision on COOL this month. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, other organizations, and independent ranchers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming want country-of-origin labels because we are proud of what we raise. Consumers nationwide want these labels so they can make informed choices. After all, we take pride in our Colorado Proud program. Other state departments of agriculture promote their products, as well so why shouldn’t America?
The announcement from the WTO on this lawsuit may be a victory for us. But if it isn’t, it can still be brought to arbitration. And that’s why it’s important that Congress refrain from making any changes to the popular labeling law until this process has run its course. For Congress to make any changes in this very popular labeling law, especially in the middle of the WTO process under way, would be unprecedented in U.S. history. Additionally, it would be a real slap in the face to the nation’s consumers who support COOL by a margin of 90 percent, according to decade’s worth of polling.
We fought hard at Farmers Union for almost a generation to get COOL. Let’s not take a step backwards.