In 2010 I got an alert from an animal rights organization to contact my representatives in congress regarding The Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2009 (S. 1076). I sent the form letter they provided and didn't think again about it. The following is the correspondence between me and Senator Coburn and the results.
May 3, 2010
Dear Ms. Lapidus,
Thank you for writing to express your support for the Truth in Fur Labeling Act. I am glad you took the time to share your concerns, and I hope you will accept my sincere apology for the delay in my response.
The Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2009 (S. 1076) would amend the current Fur Products Labeling Act by eliminating the exemptions for products containing relatively small amounts of fur. It would also allow states to enforce more restrictive labeling requirements, if they choose to do so. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
While this measure slightly modifies current law by extending labeling requirements to additional products, it does not provide any way to enforce the legislation. I am concerned that it would become one more example of Congress' tendency to pass bills that appear important and productive, but are actually ineffective and duplicative of existing laws. Sometimes these measures are even counterproductive, worsening the very problems they champion.
I want you to know that I believe it is important, in these difficult times, for Congress to first address our nation's top priorities, such as our worsening fiscal crisis, before initiating new programs. Congress must also be sure that its actions are always within the parameters granted it by the Constitution. Too often, the federal government has exercised power that does not rightfully belong to it. I am concerned that the Truth in Fur Labeling Act might not meet these requirements, but I will review it thoroughly, should it come before me in the Senate.
Lastly, I would encourage you to write to companies with fur products with your concerns. Ideally, it is through the private market that the goal behind S. 1076 is accomplished. When consumers demand a product detail, retailers would be wise to address this need. If one business begins to enact these requirements, others may be compelled to follow suit in an effort not to lose customers.
Thank you again for bringing your concerns to my attention. I welcome any further thoughts you may have and look forward to hearing from you again.
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator
May 12, 2010
Dear Senator Coburn,
Thank you for responding. I understand that this country has big problems to deal with but that should not prevent us from making the smaller choices that improve a situation. This bill is meant to give the public the knowledge that dog or other non-traditional furs are being used on items they may be purchasing.
An example of the very same thing is that we all know if there are trans fats or high fructose corn syrup in our food items. We are allowed to make an informed choice. That is exactly what this bill would do. And perhaps, as with the non-healthy food ingredients, producers will change their practices because the consumer will let them know through purchases what they will and will not buy. That is capitalism at work. And it works best with an informed consumer.
Maybe looking at it this way you might see it from a position you are more comfortable with and you will be able to support this bill, even if animal cruelty is not an issue that calls you to action. I know you believe in Americans' rights.
September 15, 2010
Dear Ms. Lapidus,
Thank you for your follow-up email regarding labeling requirements for products with small amounts of fur. I would be happy to respond to your thoughts.
I appreciate the well-stated argument you make about the need for companies to provide accurate information about their products to consumers so they can make informed decisions in the free market. I do not dispute this is a worthwhile objective. My objection to this legislation, however, does not only pertain to its relative importance to the federal agenda. As I discussed in my previous email, the legislation lacks enforcement mechanisms. The lack of a viable plan to actually ensure products are correctly labeled causes me to suspect the legislation was introduced merely to gain political points rather than to deal with any real problems. I believe this is also a reason we should question whether it should be a priority for Congress.
Ideally, consumers who are appalled at the thought of purchasing products with dog fur would, through private organizations like the Humane Society, target companies they are concerned carry such products. There are many things I'd like to know about the products I am purchasing, but I know that listing all of these things would likely result in the product becoming cost-prohibitive.
I will, however, consider your points should this legislation be prioritized by the Senate leadership.
Thank you again for following up. God bless.
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator
PLEASE CONSIDER THIS REQUEST FIRST PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2010
Good news! The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (to prevent real fur to be sold as faux fur) has passed the senate! Senator Coburn had previously blocked this and other wildlife protection legislation but after a thorough review, rethought his position and voted to SUPPORT this important bill’s passage!!!! Please take a quick moment today to call his D.C. office today to express your appreciation. Be sure to give your name and let them know you are a constituent/Oklahoman.
We called him out pretty directly for opposing this legislation and now it’s time to express our sincere thanks to him!! These thank you calls are very important and make a lasting impression, so please make that call! Senator Coburn’s office number is (202)224-5754.
For more background on the issue, see Mike Markarian’s excellent blog on the issue in the link below: http://hslf.typepad.c...
Oklahoma State Director
Just days after banning crush videos, President Obama has signed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480), which made its final route through Congress in the Senate earlier this month.
The new law closes the loophole in an already existing law that allows real fur to go unlabeled as such if the garment is worth $150 or less.
With H.R. 2480, consumers will no longer have to guess if the coat with fur trim they bought is real or fake.
Major retailers like Gucci Group, Burberry, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Buffalo Exchange, Overstock.com, Ed Hardy, Victoria Bartlett, Charlotte Ronson and Andrew Marc have all endorsed this bill.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, made a statement on the organization’s site.
“By signing this legislation, President Obama has given consumers who choose to avoid real animal fur for moral reasons a valuable tool. The Truth in Fur Labeling Act will protect shoppers by requiring all garments containing animal fur to be accurately labeled.”
Fur labeling has now caught up with the labeling of another animal product, wool, which has been required by law to be disclosed, regardless of the amount.
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