National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson sent a letter yesterday to the members of the farm bill conference committee emphasizing the importance of finishing a five-year, comprehensive farm bill as soon as possible.
"It is time to move the farm bill across the finish line," said Johnson. "Family farmers, ranchers, fishermen, rural communities and consumers have waited long enough for a long-term plan. We are hopeful that the process is nearing an end."
NFU is especially concerned by attempts to repeal or undermine Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), which provides valuable information to consumers.
"If any harmful changes to COOL are included in the farm bill, it could very likely affect NFU's ability to support the entire farm bill," said Johnson. "Farmers, ranchers, producers and consumers strongly support COOL and I urge Congress to defend the current law."
New COOL labeling rules went into effect on November 23rd, so labels must now list the production steps; born, raised, and slaughtered in the USA. USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative's office wrote the new rules to be WTO compliant.
Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske notes "Country-of-Origin Labeling is the right thing to do. There is a huge amount of pressure coming from the livestock processors now to eliminate the laws because it is likely the WTO will accept the ruling this time. I think this is a last-ditch effort for them to try and kill it."
Teske, who farms and raises beef cattle near Onaga, KS went on to say, "It's sad that National Farmers Union has had to go so far as becoming involved defending our own United States Department of Agriculture in such a frivolous law suit. I think the law suit will fail, as I suspect they know also, so now they are going back and trying to kill it by legislation, after it's been the law of the land since 2008, by holding this critical Farm Bill hostage."
In a December 1, 2013 Salina Journal article on COOL, Saline County Farmers Union president Tom Holt said he is convinced anyone buying meat should know its origin. "It should be one of the consumer's rights, just like freedom of speech," said the farmer who runs a cow-calf operation in southeastern Saline County, near Gypsum
In a recent Salina Journal editorial, Holt wrote, "Do you think it is fair to the consumer not to know where this food came from, or for our homeland producers? Country of origin is on your shirt, why shouldn't it be on the food you eat?"