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COOL Victory: R-CALF members make it happen

(Article submitted by Peggy Monzingo, member of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers Assn.) 8/1/07

Washington, D.C. - The persistent hard work of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America members who took time to contact their Representatives during the past few weeks resulted in success for independent U.S. cattle producers as the House Agriculture Committee recently kept the 2002 country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law in place, with implementation scheduled for Sept. 30, 2008.

"Only cattle born, raised and slaughtered in the United States will qualify to receive the 'Product of the U.S' label, and there is no doubt that our members have played a significant role in defending country-of-origin labeling, so it's a tremendous victory for R-CALF," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "Our members were successful in holding the anti-COOL amendment at bay. The opponents of COOL didn't even file it because they knew they no longer had support for it. "We also want to acknowledge the hard work of the National Farmers Union and consumer groups, as well as the national exposure given this issue by CNN's Lou Dobbs and Kitti Pilgrim," he continued. "This combination of grassroots lobbying and national attention quickly eroded the anti-COOL efforts of meatpacker trade associations such as AMI (American Meat Institute) and NCBA (National Cattlemen's Beef Association).

"Since 2002, these groups have tried desperately to destroy COOL, but the hard work of our members and concerned consumers stopped them in their tracks," Bullard exclaimed.

Bullard said there is still work to be done, though, as House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wants to add an amendment that would essentially direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on how to write the COOL rules.

"In other words, he wants to put more prescriptive language in the law to prevent USDA from writing another bad implementation rule, so we'll be working over the weekend to see if this is possible," said Bullard. "The next step is for the 2007 Farm Bill to be voted on by the full House of Representatives, so we must continue building support among the entire 435 members of the House so they will stand their ground if opponents of COOL try to offer another anti-COOL amendment on the full floor."

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