Earlier this week dairy industry organizations sent a letter to Senate on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), offering Voluntary COOL as the best option available. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response:
“The Hoeven-Stabenow compromise for COOL provides a voluntary label that both retains the integrity of food labeling for consumers and resolves the current dispute over COOL at the World Trade Organization (WTO). NFU urges the nation’s Ag leaders and organizations who are seeking a quick resolution to the WTO dispute over COOL to support voluntary labeling as the easiest and best option forward.
“Canadian and Mexican officials have both suggested the adoption of a voluntary system in the 2012 WTO Appellate Body Report, and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) noted that repealing the mandatory requirement and replacing it with a voluntary system would constitute compliance with the WTO. Canadian pork producers have even publicly stated their satisfaction with allowing the U.S. to engage in a voluntary system, which makes perfect sense given Canada has a voluntary system already in place.
“This is truly a compromise that doesn’t have a real down side. Consumers who want to purchase labeled food will be able to do so, farmers who are proud of the food they produce and want to label it will be able to do so, and participation by food processors and packers is completely voluntary. With voluntary COOL, everybody wins.
“While the level of possible retaliation against the U.S. has been grossly overstated, it’s not an outcome that any of us want to see happen. It’s important that the WTO dispute be resolved quickly and fairly, and voluntary COOL is the vehicle that can make that happen. We urge our fellow Ag organizations to throw their support behind voluntary COOL.”