Daily News Archive

Senators Move to Override House Bill Prohibiting Country-of-Origin Labeling,
Farm-Consumer Coalition Calls for Action TODAY

(Beyond Pesticides, October 27, 2003) - Farm and consumer groups are calling on Congress to maintain full funding for implementation of federal law, set to go into effect in September 2004, requiring the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for fresh produce, meat products and peanuts. And they are calling on the public to tell the Senate to override a House-passed provision in an agriculture appropriations bill that prohibits USDA to spend money on country-of-origin labeling. A provision in the 2002 Farm Bill requires grocery stores to identify certain commodities - beef, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables and peanuts - by country of origin. This provision also requires that a voluntary program be followed by a mandatory program to take effect by September 30, 2004.

"Agriculture producers and consumers remain united and steadfast in the call to keep mandatory country-of-origin labeling," said National Farmers Union (NFU) President Dave Frederickson. "Mandatory COOL provides an opportunity for the United States to expand the level of consumer choice, confidence and knowledge in the retail marketplace, which consumers deserve and demand and American producers can provide."

The U.S. General Accounting Office evaluated USDA's first year $2 billion paperwork cost to industry for implementation, under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and has suggested ways to reduce costs and dovetail this program with others, such as those already required for labeling meat under Tariff Act rules. But the Food Marketing Institute has launched a massive campaign with retailers to stop implementation of the COOL provision in the Farm bill.

The House of Representatives' agriculture appropriations bill contains language to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from spending funds to implement mandatory country-of-origin meat labeling. The House Agriculture Committee inserted a provision into the 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill stripping out funding for labeling meat. Rep. Rehberg (R-MT) and Rep. Hooley (D-OR) offered an amendment on the House floor that would have reinstated the money, which failed by a narrow margin.

Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) are prepared to offer a "sense of the Senate" amendment instructing agriculture appropriations conferees to remove this language from the final agriculture spending bill. The Senate bill, which is unlikely to be amended before passage, contains full funding for Country of Origin Labeling. A House-Senate conference committee will decide whether full funding for Country of Origin Labeling goes into the final bill.

The Senate is expected to debate the FY2004 agriculture appropriations bill Monday or Tuesday, October 27-28, 2003.

Supporters of country-of-origin labeling suggest the following action:

1) Call your Senators today. Ask them to support the Daschle-Enzi-Johnson Sense of the Senate resolution for full funding of Country of Origin Labeling in the Agriculture Appropriations bill. You can reach any Senator through the Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

2) Forward this action alert or ask your friends and family to contact their Senators with this same message.

For more information on how you can help preserve Country of Origin Labeling, go to www.worc.org, or contact John Smillie at 406-252-9672, [email protected].

The coalition, representing more than 50 million Americans, sent the letter to Senate members requesting their support of the Daschle-Enzi-Johnson amendment.

The following groups signed the letter:
National Farmers Union; American Farm Bureau Federation; R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America; Consumer Federation of America; Alabama Farmers Federation; Alabama Peanut Producers; American Agriculture Movement of Arkansas; American Agriculture Movement of Missouri;American Agriculture Movement of Oklahoma; American Agriculture Movement, Inc; American Corn Growers Assoc. of Nebraska; American Corn Growers Association; American Meat Goat Association; Arkansas Farmers Union; Beartooth Stockgrowers Association; Burleigh County Farm Bureau (ND); C.A.S.A. del Llano (TX); Calaveras County Cattlemen's Association; California Farmers Union; Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association; Center for Rural Affairs (NE); Churches' Center for Land and People (WI); Citizens Organized Acting Together; Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers Assoc. (AZ); Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CA); Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers Assoc. (MT); Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Foundation; Dakota Resource Council (ND); Dakota Rural Action (SD); Eagle County Cattlemen's Association (CO); Fall River & Big Valley Cattlemen's Assoc. (CA); Florida Farm Bureau Federation; Florida Farmers, Inc.; Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association; Florida Tomato Exchange; Georgia Peanut Commission; Grant County Cattlemen's Assoc. (WA); Holy Cross Cattlemen's Assoc. (CO); Idaho Farmers Union; Illinois Farmers Union; Illinois National Farmers Organization; Illinois Stewardship Alliance; Independent Cattlemen's Assoc. of Texas; Indiana Farmers Union; Indiana National Farmers Organization; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Iowa Farmers Union; Kansas Cattlemen's Association; Kansas Farmers Union; Kansas Hereford Association; Kansas National Farmers Organization; Kemper County Farm Bureau (MS); Kit Carson County Cattlemen's (CO); Land Stewardship Project (MN); Lincoln County Stockmans Assoc. (CO); Livestock Marketing Association; Madera County Cattlemen's Assoc. (CA); Malheur County Cattlemen's Assoc. (OR); McPherson County Farmers Union (KS); Merced-Mariposa Cattlemen's Assoc. (CA); Michigan Farmers Union; Mid-Nebraska Pride; Minnesota Farmers Union; Missouri Farmers Union; Missouri National Farmers Organization; Missouri Rural Crisis Center; Missouri Stockgrowers Association; Modoc County Cattlemen's Assoc. (CA); Montana Agri-Women; Montana Cattlemen's Association; Montana Farmers Union; Montana National Farmers Organization; Montana Stockgrowers Association; National Association of Counties; National Assoc. of Farmer Elected Committees; National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; National Consumers League; National Family Farm Coalition; National Farmers Organization; National Potato Council; Nebraska Farmers Union; Nebraska Grange; Nebraska Livestock Marketing Association; Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics; Nevada Live Stock Association; New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association; New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau; New Mexico Public Lands Council; New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.; New York National Farmers Organization; North Dakota Farmers Union; North Dakota Livestock Marketing Assoc.; North Dakota Stockmen's Association; Northern Plains Resource Council; Ohio Farmers Union; Oklahoma Farmers Union; Oregon Cranberry Farmers' Alliance; Oregon Farm Bureau Federation; Oregon Farmers Union; Oregon Livestock Producers Association; Organization for Competitive Markets; Park County Stockgrowers Assoc. (MT); Pennsylvania Farmers Union; Platte County Farm Bureau (NE); Powder River Basin Resource Council; Public Citizen; Rocky Mountain Farmers Union; Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA; Rural Roots (ID); South Dakota Farmers Union; South Dakota Stockgrowers Association; South Eastern Montana Livestock Assoc.; South Texas Hereford Association; Southeast Wyoming Cattlefeeders Association; Southern Peanut Farmers Federation; Southern Research and Development Corp. (LA); Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; Soybean Producers of America; Spokane Cattlemen's Association (WA); Stevens County Cattlemen's Association (WA); Sustainable Earth (IN); Sustainable Food Center (TX); Texas Farmers Union; Union County Cattlemen's Association (OR); Utah Farmers Union; Virginia Angus Association; Washington Cattlemen's Association; Washington Farmers Union; Way Out West Rural Action Group (ID); Western Organization of Resource Councils; Wisconsin Farmers Union; Wyoming Stockgrowers Association; and, Yuma County Cattlemen's Association (CO).