National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson is urging U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to pursue a robust appeals process on the recent decision of the World Trade Organization that ruled against the United States' implementation of the country-of-origin-labeling law. Johnson says NFU will oppose any attempt to make change. Johnson says the WTO has not found fault with the law, but it thinks the rules and regulations used to implement the law are at fault.
NFU is urging the office of the USTR to mount a vigorous defense of COOL in the appeals process.
"As USTR contemplates its approach to the WTO decision, we urge them to mount a vigorous defense of COOL," Johnson said. "We are aware that behind the scenes attempts at negotiating a settlement to the WTO decision has some stakeholders arguing that we must weaken our law. We strongly disagree and urge a very vigorous defense. Consumers have a right to know where their meat comes from and they overwhelmingly want to know just that."
The labeling law was passed as a part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and amended in 2008. COOL requires retailers to notify their customers of the source of certain foods. Canada and Mexico filed a complaint against the United States' law, which led to the recent ruling.
"NFU has a proud record of supporting COOL. We were instrumental in getting the COOL laws passed in 2002 and again in 2008," Johnson said. "We will oppose any attempt to change that law. Fortunately, the WTO decision against U.S. country-of-origin-labeling did not find fault with our law. It simply found fault with the rules and regulations which were used to implement the law."
The deadline for filing an appeal to the WTO decision is March 23, 2012.