R-CALF USA Pleased With Final COOL Rule Released Today
Billings, Mont.- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its final rule on country of origin labeling (COOL) today, which also is the deadline the World Trade Organization (WTO) imposed on the United States to modify COOL. In June 2012, the WTO found that the way COOL was being implemented was causing imported livestock from Canada and Mexico to be disadvantaged. As a result of that finding, the WTO directed the United States to modify COOL to bring it into compliance with WTO rules by May 23, 2013.
"USDA’s final rule is right on the mark," said R-CALF USA COOL Committee Chair Mike Schultz adding, "We are pleased that USDA did not weakened COOL in response to the WTO’s attack on our domestic food labeling program."
The WTO alleged that the existing COOL regulations require more information from cattle suppliers than is actually transmitted to consumers via a label on beef as a basis for its finding that COOL disadvantages foreign livestock.
Under the final COOL rule, all origin labels for muscle cuts of meat slaughtered in the U.S. must now specify the production steps of birth, raising, and slaughter of the animal from which the meat is derived that took place in each country listed on the label.
"By requiring the locations where each production step occurs to be listed on the label, the final COOL rule addresses the WTO’s criticism by requiring all the information collected from cattle suppliers to be transmitted to consumers," Schultz explained.
Schultz said the final COOL rule also ensures that labels are accurate by putting an end to the industry practice of using a multi-country label on meat derived exclusively from animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States when a meatpacker comingles any amount of foreign product during a production day.
"By correcting this huge loophole, the final rule restores the credibility of our labeling program and provides consumers with accurate origin information," Schultz said.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard explained that COOL is necessary to facilitate competition for U.S. cattle and provide choices for U.S. consumers.
"Without COOL it is the meatpacker and not the consumer that decides from what country cattle will be sourced to satisfy consumer demand for beef. Only with COOL can consumers trigger a demand signal for cattle sourced from U.S. farmers and ranchers, which they can do simply by consistently choosing to purchase a USA product," concluded Bullard.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.