Grand Island Independent: Smith, Farmers Union on opposite sides in COOL vote


NFU President Johnson and myself are quoted in the article on COOL below. The House vote on COOL-thanks to Representatives Smith and Ashford puts labeling of all foods, not just beef and pork, on the chopping block.

The bottom line on this issue is that our own Congress is willing to ignore the overwhelming support of food consumers and the fundamental right of food producers to identify and differentiate their own food products in their own domestic cash driven market in order to follow the operating directions of the meat cartel who consistently put the economic interests of their companies ahead of the strategic interests of our country.

The meat packing cartel wants no labeling so they can blend in lower quality food products with our higher quality domestic foods and sell more “mystery meat”.

All the best,

John Hansen, President

Nebraska Farmers Union


402-476-8815 Office 402-476-8859 Fax

402-476-8608 Home 402-580-8815 Cell

1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502

Smith, Farmers Union on opposite sides in COOL vote

By Robert Pore

Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2015

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).

Voting to repeal COOL was Rep. Ardian Smith, R-Neb. The bill passed by a vote of 300 to 131.

“This legislation is the result of strong bipartisan concern for the value of our country’s agricultural and manufactured goods,” Smith said. “After hearing concerns from producers across Nebraska, I voted to protect our exporters against retaliatory tariffs and ensure we do not cut off access to 157 million of our best consumers who annually purchase more than $3 billion in Nebraska products.”

By passing this legislation, Smith said “we have demonstrated we can constructively work with our trade partners to further reduce barriers for Nebraska producers and consumers.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called the vote a “disappointing, knee-jerk overreaction” and urged the U.S. Senate to continue its thoughtful handling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute.

Johnson said NFU will work with Congress on a clear path forward that will both resolve the WTO dispute and continue to provide consumers with accurate information about the origin of their food.

“Instead of allowing members of Congress the opportunity to debate and come to a reasonable solution to deal with the WTO compliance issue, the House has instead given us a reflexive reaction to repeal a very popular labeling law that provides important information to the nation’s consumers and is strongly supported by both consumers and family farmers,” said Johnson. “The House leadership is not interested in any reasonable solutions and blocked all amendments.”

Along with Smith, Democratic Brad Ashford voted to repeal COOL, while Republican Jeff Fortenberry voted to keep COOL in place.

Nebraska Farmers Union (NFU) President John Hansen said NFU was “deeply disappointed” how Smith and Ashford voted.

“You failed America’s beef and pork producers in their time of need,” Hansen said. “You helped our enemies attack us and treat us unfairly when you did not need to do so. You failed to stand up for the interests of the home team.”

In past disputes, Johnson said WTO members found ways to work together to arrive at a resolution that worked for all parties.

“Unfortunately, the action by the U.S. House of Representatives does not work towards a resolution that maintains the integrity of COOL and satisfies WTO obligations,” he said. “It instead signals an acceptance of defeat when there are still viable alternatives.”

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said passage of a bill to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat and poultry by the House is an “essential first step in rolling back the anti-trade law that prompted Canada to announce $3 billion in retaliatory duties.”

“Everyone knows this is not about food safety,” “said NAMI President and CEO Barry Carpenter. “It’s an issue of marketing, and that should be decided in the marketplace.”

While COOL proponents claim consumers want and are willing to pay for labels that declare where animals were born, where they were raised and where they were slaughtered, Carpenter said the marketplace suggests otherwise. “Research by Kansas State University showed no change in demand for products after the labels went into effect,” he said.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota said that “rushing a COOL repeal bill through the House is not the way to address the potential retaliation stemming from the WTO ruling.”

“There are several steps that need to happen, including determining the actual economic harm caused by COOL, before retaliation could take place,” Peterson said. “Canada’s claims are unfounded, as studies show little if any economic harm from COOL.”

Cattleman Philip Ellis of Chugwater, Wyo., National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, said, “COOL has been without benefit to the U.S. cattle industry and producers like myself.”

“And now with retaliation eminent from our largest trading partners, it is time this legislation is repealed,” Ellis added. “There is no other fix that can be put in place to bring value to this program or satisfy our trading partners.”

Canada and Mexico have announced they will seek $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs, raising prices for U.S. beef, pork, ethanol, wine and a host of other products.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that each dollar of agricultural exports stimulates another $1.22 in business activity and that every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports requires 7,580 American jobs throughout the economy.

“COOL retaliation will have a major impact on our economy and our trading relationships, now and into the future,” said Ellis.