Tester to Senate leaders: Keep COOL
Senator leads nearly one-third of Senate in bipartisan defense of Country of Origin Labeling
(MISSOULA, Mont.) - Senator Jon Tester's haircut may be from the 1950s, but he knows that being COOL never gets old.
COOL - Country of Origin Labeling - allows American families to know where the meat they buy at the store is raised and processed. Tester is a staunch supporter of the rule, saying that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from and that U.S. producers have the right to market their livestock as born and raised in America.
But with the popular rule still under consideration at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Tester today sent Senate leaders a bipartisan letter urging them to reject any efforts to weaken or suspend COOL rules as Congress works on end-of-the-year funding legislation.
"Congress enacted COOL in response to demand from consumers and livestock producers," Tester and 31 colleagues wrote Senate Appropriations Committee leaders. "Any legislative rider to undermine it would disadvantage American producers and roll-back the transparency within our meat markets. It is critical that Congress not short-circuit ongoing efforts to support American producers and consumers."
Tester's letter, which is signed by fellow Montana Senator John Walsh, highlights how earlier this year the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected attempts to weaken or suspend COOL enforcement.
"In today's fast-changing world, it is important that Montana producers can tell folks where their food comes from," said Bill Bullard, CEO of the Montana-based national cattle producer organization R-CALF. "I want to thank Senator Tester for continuing to put both U.S. producers and consumers first by fighting for common-sense food labeling."
Tester's COOL involvement dates back years. It includes working with the Agriculture Department to revise COOL rules after the WTO previously found its implementation was inconsistent with trade obligations.
Tester joined with Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to praise the revised rules in 2013.
"The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to know the origin of the meat they feed their families. American should not be deprived of that information," Tester said.
Tester's letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby is available below.