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NPPC To Testify At Congressional Hearing On MCOOL

by 5m Editor
27 June 2003, at 12:00am

US — The National Pork Producers Council today will urge members of the House Agriculture Committee to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) and replace it with a workable voluntary program for hogs and pork.

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At the hearing convened by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) today to further examine the provision, NPPC President Jon Caspers will provide testimony highlighting MCOOL's potential to limit the long-term economic health and growth of the U.S. pork industry.

"The mandatory country-of-origin labeling provision of the 2002 Farm Bill offers little value for either U.S. pork producers or U.S. consumers," said Caspers, a pork producer from Swaledale, Iowa.

"It is not a food safety law, as some proponents would have us believe, but rather a trade protectionist law designed to restrict access to U.S. retail meat cases. As the law is currently written it enables consumers to determine the country-of-origin for fresh pork sold only through retail meat cases-not for pork that is either sold by food service establishments or further processed. If the law is truly intended to ensure the safety of the food supply, then why exempt over 50 percent of the pork consumed in the U.S. today? Why do consumers have the right to know where their pork chops are from, but not their ham or bacon?"

According to Caspers, MCOOL has little to do with the consumers right to know about their food-if it did, it would fail miserably. "No credible evidence has ever shown that consumers are willing to pay a premium for country-of-origin labeled pork," he said. "U.S. pork suppliers who are currently capable of delivering such a labeled pork product to any U.S. buyer report that, to date, not one buyer has requested this product."

Caspers said one needs to look no further than to a statement made by former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. "In comments made as far back as 1999, Secretary Glickman voiced his concerns about MCOOL and asserted that it was important to consider fully the implications of basing a mandatory labeling requirement on the theory of a 'consumers right to know.' Glickman said that the European Union (EU) believes its consumers have a right to know if food products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and contended that it was possible that imposing country-of-origin labeling in the U.S. could weaken our ability to object to other labeling requirements sought by our trading partners. If Glickman's statement is accurate, then how can the U.S. demand that the EU not label genetically modified foods, while we label foods as to country-of-origin?"

Today's hearing is being organized by the House Agriculture Committee to shed further light on the long-term consequences of MCOOL and to provide an opportunity for comments from the stakeholder community to discuss the legislation with lawmakers. Other participants at the hearing will include government officials, livestock producers, industry leaders and members of academia.

Caspers said it is clear that the issue of MCOOL is far more complicated and far reaching than simply identifying live animals at the U.S. border or affixing a label to a package of pork chops. "NPPC urges the Committee to review the many prohibitive cost factors related to MCOOL and to seek an immediate repeal of this burdensome legislation," he said.

Source: National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) - 26th June 2003

5m Editor