COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING TO REVIEW MANDATORY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELING
WASHINGTON, DC - The Chairman of the U.S. House Livestock and Horticulture Agriculture Subcommittee, Congressman Robin Hayes (NC), today held a hearing to review the impact of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL). The Committee heard from representatives of the fruit, vegetable, fish and peanut industries.
"A number of folks have expressed some real reservations about enacting mandatory country of origin labeling regulations," said Hayes. "Today, the Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee held this hearing in anticipation of the USDA publishing the proposed rule on how the industry and producers will have to comply with the COOL law when it becomes mandatory on Sept. 30, 2004.
"Based on today's testimony, it is very clear that there are still some real concerns from both the proponents and the opponents of COOL. Because of these concerns, I urge the USDA to release this rule as soon as possible so as to give as much time as possible for the industry to properly review it and make comments to USDA."
The 2002 Farm Bill contained language that will require retailers to provide COOL on fresh fruits and vegetables, red meats, seafood, and peanuts beginning on Sept. 30, 2004. Until then, the program is voluntary. The most recent action on COOL was the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2004 which includes a provision to delay implementation of the law for beef, lamb and pork for one year.
During House consideration of the appropriations bill, there was an attempt to remove this provision, but that amendment was defeated. The Senate has not yet completed its version of an agriculture appropriations bill.
The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture web site http://agriculture.house.gov has additional information on this and other subjects.