Meatpackers Urge Congress to Amend COOL Rules

Posted November 21, 2013

U.S. meatpackers are urging Congress in a last-minute effort to stop the implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules, according to an article by the Wall Street Journal available here.  The Wichita Business Journal also reported on the story here.

The regulations are set to “come into full force” on Saturday after a six month grace period.  Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and others are asking Congress to amend the final rule in the new farm bill. 

The COOL final rule, available here, became effective on May 23, 2013 and modified certain provisions of the COOL regulations after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that aspects of the regulations violated U.S. trade obligations.  The final rule requires labels on certain cuts of meat to provide information on where it was born, raised, and slaughtered. 

The meatpackers, however, realize that amending the rule before Saturday is likely impossible, because passage of the 2013 farm bill is unlikely to occur by the end of the week.  The meatpackers argue that the rules increase costs and result in discriminatory trade practices. 

“We remain hopeful that these new rules will eventually be rescinded,” said Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Tyson Foods. 

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Farmers Union, and the Consumer Federation of America have all supported the rules. 

 “The industry groups have lost at every turn in court and they are convinced, as we are that we are going to win at the WTO level.  The only recourse they have is to change the law now,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.

For more information on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), the National Agricultural Law Center’s Reading Room on the subject is available here.