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Thune Hopes U.S. Senate Stays Cool On COOL


Country of Origin Labeling on meat products was first part of the 2002 Farm Bill.   Since taking effect the measure has gained broad support from both consumers and independent cattle producers in places like South Dakota. 

But COOL, as it’s commonly called, doesn’t have the same support from major meat packers or from countries like Canada and Mexico.  Foreign nations are now calling for sanctions against the United States.   Congress is listening, the U.S. House passed legislation to more or less repeal COOL – the issue is now before the Senate.
The proposed repeal of most of the provisions in Country of Origin Labeling irks many cattle producers and consumers.  Silvia Christen is with the South Dakota Stock Growers Association. When it comes to COOL, Christen points her frustration north.

Silvia Christen with the South Dakota Stock Growers.

“They are threatening with retaliatory measures; they are threatening with a trade war.  And Canada is really threatening the United States with a lot of things that we don’t have the right or the ability to ever impose,”  says  Christen
Christen says she hopes middle ground can be found, but she says many cattle producers aren’t happy with congress over this issue.   
“It is extremely frustrating to us that our Congress and our Senate have been willing to cave to the interests and the threats of another country to potentially repeal the Country of Origin Labeling Laws in the United States that our producers and our consumers have come to enjoy,” says Christen  
But opponents say COOL unfairly targets producers in neighboring countries.   The World Trade Organization, agrees, it may allow sanctions against the United States that could total $3.7-billion if COOL stays in place.   U.S. Senator John Thune says this isn’t an easy decision for congress.
“Congress does need to very carefully balance its next steps.  We want to insure that we don’t have billions of dollars in sanctions imposed on businesses and agricultural products in the U.S. in some cases those could impact South Dakota’s economy and we want to protect the interest of consumers who want to know the origin of the meat and some of the things that they eat are,” says Thune.

According to Thune there are a number of U.S. Senators who will fight for COOL.  He says he hopes the Senate won’t rush to judgment on Country of Origin Labeling.

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