S.D. Farmers Union President Urges Trump to Reinstate COOL for Public Health Reasons
March 23, 2017
South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke joins National Farmers Union in urging President Trump to reinstate Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) of beef and other meat products for public health reasons.
"Without COOL, consumers don't know where their meat is raised or processed. The recent Brazilian meat scandal just affirms the fact that we need to label meat for public health reasons," said Sombke, of the scandal where a chemical was added to meat processed in Brazil to mask the fact the meat was rancid. "The World Trade Organization should not determine which foods and labeled and which are not. Not labeling meat is a public health concern."
This week the Trump Administration released a list of 24 trade practices, including COOL, that trade negotiators should prioritize in future negotiations.
In 2015, COOL was repealed by Congress after a lengthy World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada and Mexico and pressure from multinational meatpackers. Faced with either making the law compliant by switching it to a voluntary system, paying more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs, or repealing the law, Congress chose to repeal the law. And when doing so, they even removed COOL labels from meats like ground beef and ground pork that were never at issue with the WTO.
A grassroots organization, National Farmers Union is following policy put in place by states organizations, like S.D. Farmers Union and is urging the administration to keep COOL on the list. And, to ensure a reinstatement of COOL would be allowable under any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"For 30 years, NFU has championed Country-of-Origin Labeling, and we strongly believe the issue is important to American producers and consumers alike," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "American producers raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from. President Trump should stick up for American consumers and producers by ensuring COOL is a priority for his administration's trade negotiations."
Supporting South Dakota's Beef Industry
Sombke said that along with maintaining a safe food supply, the reinstatement of COOL will support South Dakota's beef industry. An industry which accounts for $3.12 billion dollars in the state, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 census data.
"South Dakota producers invest heavily in raising a safe, quality beef supply. If the meat they raised is labeled, it prevents our cattle producers from taking a hit when meat from foreign countries is deemed unsafe," Sombke said.
Sombke urges South Dakotans to reach out to the state's representatives in D.C. and encourage them to urge Trump to reinstate COOL. To learn more about Farmers Union efforts to reinstate COOL, visit their website, www.nfu.org.
Last Modified: 03/23/2017 7:15:57 am MDT