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New polls show support for COOL
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association states that a new consumer survey, released the week of May 13 by the Consumer Federation of America, shows strong support among consumers for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) as well as for the Department of Agriculture’s approach to resolving the COOL dispute at the World Trade Organization.
According to a May 16 cattlemen’s press release, the survey was conducted by ORC International May 9-12.
Ninety percent of the 1000 adults surveyed favored requiring food sellers to indicate on the package label the country of origin of fresh meat they sell. Eighty-seven percent of adults surveyed favor requiring food sellers to indicate on the label the country or countries in which various production steps take place, including where animals are born, raised, and processed.
As a response to a World Trade Organization ruling in a complaint lodged by Canada and Mexico against the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published proposed amendments to COOL implementation rules that will provide increased labeling information for consumers. The World Trade Organization Appellate Body’s ruling upheld the right of the United States to require origin labeling, but found that the labeling information being provided under the program limited consumer benefits because insufficient consumer information was being provided. Under a World Trade Organization agreement, the United States has until May 23 to come into compliance with the ruling.
“This new survey has been released at the perfect time with the May 23 deadline approaching,” said U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Jon Wooster. “It is proof that consumers not only want their meat labeled as to origin but they also approve of USDA’s proposed resolutions. I urge individuals and groups to reference this survey as we move forward with issues surrounding COOL in the development of farm policy legislation. As the 2013 Farm Bill proceeds in Congress, COOL opponents will seize any opportunity to undermine the program as already evidenced by the inclusion of marker language in the House version of the Farm Bill. This new consumer survey should put to rest any question about what consumers want.”
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