Sen. Johnson calls on administration to uphold congressional intent on COOL

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Farm Forum

Washington, DC- On Feb. 1, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to uphold mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) as they develop corrective measures required by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Senator Johnson and Sens. Tester (D-MT), Enzi (R-WY), and Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan group of 31 senators in fighting to ensure that no changes are made to the program that contradict the intent of Congress.

“The COOL requirements agreed to by Congress provide valuable information for American consumers about where their food comes from, and promote the hard work of our farmers and ranchers,” Johnson said. “I am glad that the WTO’s decision upholds the law itself, which I authored, and will fight to ensure that as the regulations are reshaped to fit WTO requirements, its integrity and intent are not lost.”

The WTO recently affirmed the legitimacy of COOL, but upheld complaints by Canada and Mexico that the program treats imported livestock less favorably than domestic livestock. Last month, the WTO announced that the United States must be in compliance with this ruling by May 23, 2013.

The letter to Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack outlines key principles that the Administration should follow as it implements changes to COOL that will ensure the program is carried out as Congress intended.