Grassley comments on COOL

Grassley-090507-18363- 0032By The Iowa Statesman


During a hearing Thursday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made the following comments about Country Of Origin Labeling.

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Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing on Country of Origin Labeling.  I would also like to thank Craig Hill, President of the Iowa Farm Bureau, for testifying here today.

I have supported COOL since it was first adopted during the 2002 Farm Bill.  My support for COOL stems from wanting to provide consumers additional information about the meat they consume.  If we can know the country of origin for every T-shirt in this country, we should also be able to know where our meat is coming from.

We must be true to our obligations at the World Trade Organization.  The WTO has ruled against the current COOL law four times.  I think we are past the point of debating IF our COOL law is going to change.

The question we are debating is HOW the current COOL law is going to change.  I’m not ready to eliminate COOL altogether for pork and beef.  I think we can find a way forward on COOL that ends the mandatory segregation under current law which is the key point of the WTO case.

As proof that there is a way forward on COOL, I would simply point out that Canada has a voluntary “Product of Canada” label. That label even has its own qualifying statement outlining the fine details that must be met in order for the product of Canada label to be used.

I fail to see how Canada can have a voluntary program with clear stipulations but we cannot.

Beyond that point, I have heard rumblings that a voluntary program is not flexible enough.  To people with those concerns I simply ask- how do you get more flexible than voluntary?

A voluntary program for beef and pork is something we need to consider.  There are undoubtedly details to be worked through, but I must say I find it hard to believe we cannot set some basic criteria for a voluntary label.

Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, I look forward to working with you all to resolve this issue before August recess.