NOBULL: WORC statement on USDA release of new meat labeling rules

For immediate release: March 11, 2013
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Mabel Dobbs, (208) 549-3433; or Liz Moran, WORC Regional Organizer, or Kevin Dowling, WORC Communications Director, (406) 252-9672

WORC statement on USDA release of new meat labeling rules

BILLINGS, MONT. – On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released proposed rules to fix U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law for meat. The amendments to COOL are necessary because of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling late last year that parts of the COOL law amount to trade barriers against Canada and Mexico.

WTO gave the United States until May 23, 2013, to bring the COOL rule into compliance or face sanctions. The proposed changes are open for public comment until April 11.

Rancher Mabel Dobbs, Chair of Western Organization of Resource Councils’ (WORC) Ag and Food Campaign Team from Weiser, Idaho, issued the following statement on behalf of WORC:

“The U.S could have responded to the WTO mandate to fix COOL by watering down the label requirements but instead USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack has done the right thing. The proposed changes to COOL will give consumers more information about the origins of their meat.

“The amendment to COOL would make it mandatory that labels clearly state the country where each stage of the process occurred. For example, the label could tell consumers the product was ‘Born and raised in Mexico and Slaughtered in the US’ rather than merely a ‘Product of Mexico and the US’, as it is under current regulation.

“USDA’s proposed rules help protect our right to know the country-of-origin of products. We urge the USDA to finalize the COOL rules.”