S.D. Farmers Union President says Proposed New Language Ventures too Far from Policy of Country of Origin Labeling
HURON, S.D. – July 23, 2015 -New language tied to today’s Transportation Funding Bill could dramatically impact the strength of current Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation, said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President and a Conde, S.D. farmer.
"The new language diminishes COOL’s ability to protect American consumers – it basically means that retailers no longer need to label where meat comes from," explained Sombke, of the language introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Hoeven (R-ND) and tied to today’s Transportation Funding Bill.
The new language would make COOL a voluntary action for packers and remove labeling requirements from retailers – on all beef, pork and poultry products sold in the U.S.
"Language from the house bill to repeal COOL, which included poultry, is also in the language Stabenow and Hoeven are proposing," Sombke said. "Both Senators have expressed that they believe without this language Agriculture Committee Chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) will introduce the House version to repeal COOL. However, this weakens the purpose of COOL too much for us to support."
He explained further; "This means consumers will have no idea where the meat they buy comes from. They won’t know if it is American-raised and processed, or if it came from Canada, Mexico, China – or anywhere else in the world – where food handling, health and animal care standards are not what they are here in the U.S."
Sombke said that this new attempt to weaken COOL’s effectiveness demonstrates how much influence multi-national companies have on members of Congress. "What does this say about the voice of the people when Congress will bow to an international body like the World Trade Organization," Sombke asked. "Farmers Union will continue to fight for consumers’ rights and our membership’s desire to make COOL mandatory for all meat products sold in the U.S. We may have to find a new direction to pursue our end result – however this new language is not the right direction."
To learn more about South Dakota Farmers Union, visit sdfu.org.
Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director for South Dakota Farmers Union
605-352-6761 ext: 114
Photo Credit: Courtesy of South Dakota Farmers Union
Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President
For a high resolution copy of this image, visit this link.