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Pork producers urge passage of omnibus appropriations bill, delaying COOL

by 5m Editor
21 January 2004, at 12:00am

US - On the eve of the Senate taking final action on H.R. 2673, the FY 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, America's pork producers urge passage of the bill, which includes a provision delaying mandatory country-of-origin labeling for two-years, said NPPC President Jon Caspers.

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"After passage of the bill, we need to focus on ensuring food safety, animal health and further bolstering confidence in our nation's food supply," said Caspers, a pork producer from Swaledale, Iowa. "Attempts by activist groups to cast country-of-origin labeling, a promotional tool, as something that will offer additional food safety assurances, are disingenuous and just plain dishonest."

According to Caspers, pork producers support a workable, voluntary country-of-origin labeling program and a national animal identification system. "This would protect the health of the U.S. livestock herd and ensure greater confidence in our food supply," Caspers said. "Country-of-origin labeling is no more than a political slogan," he said. "It is not a solution that will assist in selling additional meat products, and due to current economic conditions, it is critical not to add additional costs for pork producers. A voluntary program could be available to all segments of the food chain, including restaurants and food service, will reward those who choose to participate and not exclude processed pork products."

Caspers said under the country-of-origin labeling law as currently written, the Secretary of Agriculture is prohibited from instituting a national animal identification system, that would quickly help identify the origins of animal diseases and other potential pathogens. "A national animal identification system is the cornerstone of a meaningful animal health program and real food safety assurances," he said. "Without it, we are unable to rapidly trace a foreign animal disease outbreak back to the farm, creating havoc in times of crisis."

Caspers said Congress needs to put the cart before the horse and bolster consumer confidence in the U.S. meat supply. "By instituting a national animal identification system - to help control animal disease and enhance food safety - we can then discuss a workable, voluntary country-of-origin labeling program that is meaningful to American consumers who continue to purchase the safest pork products available in the world," he said.

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 20th January 2004

5m Editor