AGRIBUSINESS: COOL Rules Draw International Complaints

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Nearly 100 farm, consumer, and rural groups have written members of the Farm Bill Conference Committee asking them to protect the country of origin labeling law when they finalize the 2014 farm bill.

Supporters of the labeling rule say it tells consumers what they need to know on where an animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. Opponents say the cost to track and segregate animals for that information is unjustified.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says the letter was drafted after reports that the Office of the U.S.

Trade Representative was lobbying farm bill conferees to weaken COOL. The USTR allegedly is pushing for a label that simply says "product of North America" or "product of USA for animals imported into the U.S."

Next month, the World Trade Organization will hear Canada's complaint against U.S. COOL rules in February.

Canada says the new rules are more restrictive and harmful to Canadian beef cattle and pigs exported to the U.S. than the earlier version that was found to violate WTO rules.

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