Tester, Johnson and Enzi Applaud USDA on Country of Origin Labeling

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for issuing a proposed rule to revise the United States’ Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program. The release of the proposed rule follows a finding by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the implementation of COOL was inconsistent with certain trade obligations.

“This rule gives American families the information they need when deciding what to feed their families,” Tester said. “I was proud to join with consumers and ag producers from across the nation to tell the Department of Agriculture that Americans have a right to know where their meat comes from, and I encourage everyone to weigh in before the new rule gets finalized.”

“As the original author of the COOL legislation, I am glad the USDA has put forward this proposed rule so Americans can be further informed about the origin of the meat they feed their families,” said Johnson. “It is critically important that we maintain a program that continues to fully and accurately inform consumers about the origin of their food while also meeting our international trade obligations. I encourage all stakeholders – consumers, ag producers, and the packers – to offer their input to USDA during the comment period.”

“Senator Tim Johnson and I have been working together for years to make sure Country of Origin Labeling is there for customers who want to know where the meat they buy comes from,” said Enzi. “I applaud the move by the USDA to gather input from the public and their efforts towards making sure the United States meets its trade obligations. I encourage Wyoming producers and the entire livestock industry to look at the proposed rule and share their comments.”

The proposed rule published today in the Federal Register will require that each production step of the animal be printed on the labels of muscle cuts of meat. It will also remove the ability of packing facilities to commingle livestock from multiple origins and label the meat from those livestock with the same label.

The notice of the proposed rulemaking can be viewed here. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by April 11, 2013, and can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov or to Julie Henderson, Director; USDA, AMS, LPS, COOL Division; 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 2620-S; Washington, D.C. 20250; telephone number (202) 720-4486; or fax (202) 260-4486.