VENEMAN: AG GROUPS SOUGHT COOL DELAY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Strong opposition by farm groups is what convinced U.S. lawmakers to agree on blocking implementation of the country- of-origin labeling law for two years, though that action has not been made final by Congress, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Monday.
Veneman, in an interview with OsterDowJones, said lawmakers "are doing this at the behest of the industry."
She then went on to list the strong opposition to the labeling law by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.
The law was approved by Congress as part of the 2002 Farm Bill and was scheduled to be implemented in September 2004.
Farm groups, Veneman said, told her and Congress that they "don't like this legislation."
Lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agreed in closed-door meetings over the weekend to block the country-of-origin labeling law for two years in a measure included in the FY 2004 agriculture spending bill that is still yet to be completed.
The country-of-origin labeling law would mandate that the origins of a wide variety of commodities such as beef, pork and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables will have to be labeled on supermarket shelves.
But a primary concern of those who oppose country-of-origin labeling is the cost that it will impose on producers, processors and retailers.