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Senators seek appeal of country-of-origin labeling decision

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
A bipartisan coalition of 19 senators led by Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., today called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to appeal a World Trade Organization decision that was critical of the U.S. country-of-origin food labeling program.

“I applaud the panel for acknowledging that we have the right to require labeling, but I am concerned about the impact that the decision by the WTO panel will have on USDA’s ability to continue implementing country-of-origin labeling,” Johnson said.

“I want the administration to appeal the decision, because people want to know if the beef or pork they are eating was raised in the USA,” Johnson said.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
Sen Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
“Our producers give us their best and we in government need to continue to step up and give them our best,” said Enzi.

“The COOL statute is trade compliant and helps guarantee consumers have confidence in the labels they find in the grocery aisle," Enzi said. "The administration needs to stand firm behind this program and make sure the WTO panel considers all sides before any changes are made.”

The senators noted that on November 18, a WTO Dispute Settlement Panel ruling on complaints from Canada and Mexico said that while the U.S. has the right to require country-of-origin labeling, the program gives less favorable treatment to meat from Canada and Mexico.