AMI praises ag committee approval of bill to make COOL voluntary

by 5m Editor
22 July 2004, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Meat Institute (AMI) today gave high praise to the House Agriculture Committee for its overwhelming approval of a bill to make country-of-origin labeling for meat, seafood and produce voluntary.

H.R. 4576, sponsored by Representatives Goodlatte (R-VA) and Stenholm (D-TX), would replace the mandatory, federally unfunded mandate slated to go into effect September 2006 with a voluntary, flexible system. It was approved by voice vote during a markup of the bill today and will now move to the House floor for full consideration.

Mandatory country of origin labeling was included in the 2002 Farm Bill and must be fully implemented by September 30, 2006. The law was originally slated for September 30, 2004, implementation, but lawmakers approved a two-year delay last year.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service last year estimated that the cost of the implementing and maintaining the system would be $3.9 billion, $2.4 billion of which would be borne by the U.S. meat industry. These costs would ultimately be shared by both consumers and producers.

"Repeal of the mandatory labeling law will put choices back into the hands of consumers and will give producers, processors and retailers the flexibility to provide country of origin labeling if their customers see value in the added cost," noted AMI President and CEO Patrick Boyle. "Otherwise, mandatory country of origin labeling is nothing more than a cumbersome government dictate that replaces affordable food on the table with needless bureaucratic red tape and extra costs for consumer."

"We commend Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Minority Member Stenholm - and all the members of the Agriculture Committee -- for their leadership and common sense approach to this issue," Boyle said. "We look forward to House consideration and passage of the bill and believe that it will put the market and consumers who drive the market in charge."

Source: American Meat Institute (AMI) - 22nd July 2004

5m Editor