AAM Press Release of November, 24, 2003

Funding of COOL

Sturgeon, MO—A big story is the death of three and infection of almost 500 people with Hepatitis A from imported Mexican scallions. This suggests COOL is needed.

Presently U.S. food is still among the safest in the world. But, with recent International Trade Agreements like North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Free Trade Agreement (WTO) of 146 countries and the impending Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which would extend “free trade” to 34 more countries of the Americas-U.S. food will become less safe.

The Senate passed Country of Origin Labeling Law (COOL) as part of a Farm Bill several times. The U.S. House, President Clinton and USDA acceded to power of oligopolistic packers, imports and producers. In the U.S. House the influence of big corporations is powerful. In Joint Conference Committees the Congress has eliminated COOL several times. Impending is a rushed Omnibus Spending Bill that may be approved before Thanksgiving Recess according to Senator Harkin (D-IA). This would again prevent funding of COOL and the implementation of a Sense of the Senate Amendment. The House Farm Bill contains anti-COOL language from the Bonilla Amendment.

USDA, meat packers, and others claiming to represent farmers falsely say the COOL will cost $4-8 billion that will come out of the pocket of food producers. Meanwhile many packers and other big agribusiness corporations continue making 20=% quarterly profit. John J. VanSickle, Professor & Director International Agricultural Trade and Policy Center at the University of Florida/IFAS, claims that the real cost of COOL would be only 0.1 cent per pound. Since 1995, according to VanSickle, U.S. imports of animals and animal products has increased 50% as exports increased 1.5%.

The excuse for WTO, NAFTA, and FTAA is they increase imports due to free trade. This situation internationally is not a “level playing field” since U.S. producers and manufacturers must climb a steep over-head cost-hill. Meanwhile due to ill-conceived agreements-millions of jobs, hundreds of factories, and the relocation of formerly U.S. companies has hurt U.S. citizens financially. Not all jobs leaving are blue collar either, now white collar jobs are rapidly leaving the USA.

To add insult to injury some imports contain Hepatitis A, E-coli, Asian Rust, and pesticides long banned in the U.S. but permitted under permissive international rules e.g. DDT. Also, Chapter 11 of NAFTA and similar WTO regulations revoke any U.S. law or regulation that restricts profit by foreign companies. Under one of these rules, California was sued by a Canadian company for preventing aquifer pollution by MTBE (methyl t-butyl ether) as a gasoline oxygenating additive when California banned MTBE in favor of ethanol as a gasoline additive, to prevent nitrous oxide, carbon, carbon monoxide and other emissions.

Foreign imported food is not always properly inspected percentage-wise and in the case of meats can even be stamped with the USDA mark-falsely indicating U.S. origin.

Congress apparently values political donations from multinational corporations over greater U.S. food safety.


OCM: COOL Must Become and Election voting Issue

Lincoln, NE - The Organization for competitive Markers (OCM) says that the battle to keep country of origin labeling (COOL) must be amplified to a new level. Farmers, ranchers and consumers must keep up their calls and faxes to their legislators, to the White House and to the House/Senate leadership to let them know that this is a voting issue.

“Country of Origin Labeling of food has precipitated a war,” said OCM President Fred Stokes. “Food producers and consumers are on one side with the food cartels and their lackeys on the other. Regrettably, the leadership in our government has come down on the wrong side, as they cut back room deals to kill COOL.”

Ag Secretary Ann Veneman, doing the bidding of meat packers, said this past week that farmers and ranchers do not want COOL. However, more than 135 organizations representing over 50 million Americans have been vigorous in support of the law. Further, every survey of producers and consumers on the issue reveals overwhelming support.

“This is a ‘no-brainer’,” continued Stokes. “The merits of food labeling are patently obvious and public support for it is massive. Given the recent incidents of mad cow disease in Canadian beef and Hepatitis A in Mexican green onions, the case for COOL is overpowering. That this administration, leadership in congress and USDA are complicit in a massive campaign to distort, delay, deceive and ultimately kill this legislation should scare everyone.”

The Organization for Competitive Markets is a multi-disciplinary, non-profit group of farmers, ranchers, academics, attorneys and policy makers dedicated to reclaiming the agricultural marketplace for independent farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.