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From: Melissa M
Sent on: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 5:40 PM

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Patrick Woodall <[address removed]>
Date: February 27, 2013, 5:39:28 PM EST
To: Patrick Woodall <[address removed]>

Thank you for all your work over the years to protect family farmers We need your help again, this time to protect country-of-origin labeling – the labels that tell consumers where there food comes from and give them a chance to buy meat from local, U.S. farmers.

Country-of-origin labeling rules have been under attack by the meatpackers and the World Trade Organization. COOL labels are overwhelmingly popular with consumers and farmers. We all fought for decades to get country-of-origin labeling into the Farm Bill, but before the first label was slapped on a USA steak, the rule was challenged as a barrier to trade at the WTO.

It is crazy that an international trade court could decide that these commonsense labels are illegal, but there is still time to make sure we keep COOL in place and even strengthen it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has until May to change the rules and we must to tell USDA that the only acceptable way to respond to the WTO challenge is to make labels more informative for consumers, not water them down.

The meatpackers and livestock exporters are going to use the WTO case to eliminate or weaken the COOL rules so it is harder to know where the meat in our supermarkets came from. We cannot let that happen.

That is why we are asking you to sign on to the letter pasted below to show broad-based support for country-of-origin labels. Together we can beat back the attack on COOL, strengthen the rules and protect farmers and consumers.

Can we count on your support again?  Please email [address removed] BY MARCH 15th to sign your organization onto this letter and protect COOL.

Thanks so much, Patrick Woodall, Food & Water Watch

(PS: In case you want to delve into the twisted logic of the WTO case and why strengthening the COOL labels will address the WTO ruling, there is a brief fact sheet on the case attached.)



The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack

Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave SW

Washington, DC  20250


Dear Secretary Vilsack:

The undersigned ### farm, rural, faith, environmental and consumer organizations write in strong support of a regulatory change to the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for meat that will provide consumers with additional and more accurate information about the source of their food. The information age has touched nearly every part of daily life in the United States. Americans want to know about more about just about everything they own or consume, and that includes knowing the origins of their food.

More than 20 state legislatures are considering bills that demand more information about how food is produced and gets passed along to the consumer through labeling. These legislative efforts as well as enthusiasm for local food systems are clear indications that consumers want more information about their food, especially where it was produced.

In 2002, after years of effort by consumers and farmers resulted in mandatory country-of-origin labels for meats, poultry, vegetables, fruits, and some nuts were included in the Farm Bill, which were then expanded in 2008. Recent challenges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to change the regulations that implement COOL in order to comply with the ruling.

The only acceptable way to respond to the WTO challenge is to make labels more informative for consumers, not water them down. U.S. farmers and ranchers are proud of what they produce and should be allowed to promote their products. Consumers deserve clear, direct, and informative labels. Providing more accurate labels with more information is a win-win situation for producers and consumers alike.

Our organizations urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to strengthen the rules for COOL, which will allow farmers and ranchers to take pride in their products and the American public to know the origins of their food and make more informed food purchasing decisions.


List of Organizations

Patrick Woodall
Research Director
Food & Water Watch
1616 P Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 
[address removed]

This email message originally included an attachment.

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