For Immediate Release Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815
Nebraska Farmers Union Brings Country Support for COOL to Washington, DC
LINCOLN (May 22, 2015) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) sent two of their state leaders to Washington, DC this past week as a part of the National Farmers Union (NFU) targeted Spring Fly-In on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) to show the strong support that family farmers and ranchers from across the country have for COOL.
The message from NeFU President John Hansen and NeFU Secretary Mike Sarchet of Minatare joined sixty other local and state Farmers Union officers from 27 states to ask their elected officials in Congress to allow the World Trade Organization (WTO) process to conclude their established process without interference from Congress.
“Family farmers and ranchers as well as consumers continue to strongly support COOL. U.S. consumers want to know where the food they are buying for their families came from. U.S. family farmers and rancher food producers want to be able to identify and differentiate their own food products in their own domestic marketplace just as their competitors do in 70 countries of the world that have some sort of mandatory COOL,” said John Hansen, NeFU president. “We need to remember that the WTO decision did not outlaw COOL. It did say the U.S. would need to make changes, not repeal the law altogether.”
The Farmers Union delegation met with both Nebraska Senators and all three Congressmen to ask them to allow the WTO process to continue forward. While Canada has made ever changing claims as to damages they have incurred from COOL, they are not entitled to any more damages than they can prove. “There is a lot of difference between what you can say in a press release and what you can prove in an international court of arbitration,” said Mike Sarchet, NeFU Secretary from Minatare. “We want the process to go forward so that the negotiations can go forward. We know one thing for sure, if the shoe was on the other foot, the Canadian government would be dragging the process out as long as it possibly could, as they should if they thought their interests were at risk.”
Based on the recent study done by C. Robert Taylor at Auburn, the economic collapse of 2008, not COOL caused a decrease in Canadian cattle exports to the U.S. as U.S. consumers tightened their pocketbooks and ate less beef. The study will make it difficult for Canada to prove that COOL has caused real economic harm to their agriculture sector. Canada is not entitled to any damages unless they can prove them.
“While the recent WTO decision was disappointing, it is clear there is still a path forward for U.S. COOL,” said Hansen. “If 70 countries around the world can figure out how to implement mandatory COOL and be WTO compliant, we know the U.S. can figure out a way to implement COOL too. If the House Agriculture Committee wanted to be helpful, they would help find a way to implement COOL in a fashion that is WTO compliant. Instead, they chose to insert itself in the middle of the WTO process in an inappropriate and unprecedented fashion with the 38-6 passage of H.R. 2393 that would repeal COOL. That effort breaks faith with U.S. consumers, U.S. food producers, and Congress that has passed COOL multiple times before,” Hansen concluded.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 5,671 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.