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House approves mandatory COOL delay.

The House last week approved a one-year delay for implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling. The House voted 408-18 to approve the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations budget bill (H.R. 2744) that pushes back USDA implementation of the program from September 30, 2006, to September 30, 2007. The labeling provision forbids the USDA from spending funds to immediately produce final rules.

The mandatory program is opposed by large meat producers and processors who argue that the costs would exceed any potential marketing benefits. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is one of several organizations pushing for the delay. "By passing this delay, Congress now will have time to take action on a meaningful, bipartisan country-of-origin meat labeling program that makes sense for both pork producers and American consumers," said NPPC President Don Buhl. "This mandatory date is fast approaching, and the industry continues to be concerned that its implementation will cause great financial hardship. Pork producers remain steadfast--mandatory country-of-origin labeling is all about costs with no benefits."

Meanwhile, small farmer organizations and consumer groups support the mandatory program saying that U.S. consumers deserve to know where their food originates. "Congress missed an opportunity to help American consumers know where their food comes from, as well as a chance to help American producers differentiate their high-quality, domestic products from imported beef," said National Farmers Union President Dave Frederickson. "This law has been on the books for three years. How much more time do they need?"
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Jun 20, 2005
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