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Country of Origin labeling waiting on Senate action

by 5m Editor
22 October 2003, at 12:00am

US - Country of Origin labeling awaits Senate action. Funding to write rules for the program was withdrawn in a House appropriations bill. The Senate has yet to act on their appropriations bill, but is expected to roll all appropriations into an omnibus bill.

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Once that happens, a conference committee of House and Senate members will meet and decide the fate of funding to write rules for Country of Origin labeling.

Martin said the Agricultural Marketing Service, the division of USDA charged with writing the rules, has created a proposed rule but is waiting for an appropriations announcement before releasing them. The proposed rules were to be released this fall, with a comment period to follow.

Final rules are due in the spring with program implementation by Sept. 30, 2004.

Farm Bureau supports COOL, but has questions about the certification process and the potential cost to producers.

There will be more work for producers, Martin said, because they will have to keep records on their animals' countries of origin.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has introduced a bill to provide for self-verification, said Thom Petersen, Minnesota Farmers Union government relations director. Farm groups have called for this to spare farmers the expense of hiring an outside firm to verify where their animals were born.

COOL enjoys broad support from the agricultural community, with 135 groups backing it, Petersen said.

The cost to implement the program is being debated. The General Accounting Office in September released a report refuting USDA's estimated $2 billion price tag.

Source: Agrinews - 21st October 2003

5m Editor