Johnson applauds fed court ruling on Country of Origin Labeling

Farm Forum

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) applauded the July 29 decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that reaffirms the legitimacy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program for meat products.

“South Dakota’s and the nation’s independent livestock producers, along with consumers everywhere, got a big win with this decision that maintains their right to have meat labeled as to its country of origin,” said Johnson. “COOL has served as a key marketing tool for ranchers to sell their meat and lets consumers make informed choices in their meat purchases.”

“The federal court’s affirmation of the legitimacy and constitutionality of COOL comes despite efforts by the meatpackers to repeal the law and having fought labeling at every step of the way,” said Johnson. “With this decision, USDA can continue to implement COOL.”

As the original author of COOL, Johnson has fought vigorously to defend the law and USDA’s implementation of the program. Despite repeated attempts by opponents of COOL to repeal the program during consideration of the farm bill, Johnson was successful in maintaining the current statute in the final bill.

Objections to the U.S. COOL program by Canada and Mexico before the World Trade Organization (WTO) have not been finalized. However, it is expected that a decision will be made public soon. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have continued working to defend the program and have expressed confidence that the May 2013 rule updating the requirements of the program is compliant with the United States’ international trade commitments.