COOL – Foes try to de-fang meat-labeling law in USDA bill

Foes try to de-fang meat-labeling law in USDA bill

Foes hope to shorten the lifetime of the country-of-origin meat labeling law with help of the Agriculture Department funding bill pending in the House. They already have nonbinding "report language" that calls on USDA to suspend the labeling program if the United States loses a World Trade Organization case filed by Canada and Mexico, who say the law is a trade barrier. During debate on Wednesday, Arkansas Republican Rick Crawford said he wanted the strongest language possible against COOL in the bill.

"It is my intention to protect our domestic industry from retaliation," responded Robert Aderholt, the Alabama Republican in charge of the bill. Packages of beef, pork and poultry cuts are required to list where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Consumer groups say the labels provide useful information for shoppers. The meat industry says the labels are a record-keeping headache. "This program has added nothing but cost to our livestock industry," said California Democrat Jim Costa.