Group Coalition Letter Opposing Changes to COOL

December 2, 2014

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski Chairwoman
Senate Appropriations Committee The Capitol S-128

The Honorable Richard Shelby Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Committee The Capitol S-146-A Washington, DC 20510

Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:

The undersigned 207 farm, ranch, rural, faith, labor, environmental, farmworker, manufacturing and consumer organizations urge the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject any effort to weaken, suspend or rescind mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in the upcoming legislation to provide funding for the federal government for the remainder or part of Fiscal Year 2015.

American consumers are increasingly interested in understanding more about the origins of their food and the public overwhelmingly supports Country of Origin Labeling. The commonsense COOL labels that are in place today provide additional and more accurate information about where their food comes from. Farmers are proud of the food they put on American dinner tables and support the current COOL labels that allow consumers to make more informed food purchasing decisions.

Congress enacted COOL in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills in response to the broad-based support for these sensible labels. Since 2008, the World Trade Organization has been weighing a dispute over COOL that will most likely continue past the end of Fiscal Year 2015. The WTO has ruled that COOL labels are legitimate but continues to weigh the implementation of the labeling requirements. Importantly, in each successive deliberation, the WTO has been increasing receptive to the legitimacy of the Congressionally mandated labels.

Congress should not short circuit the WTO process; nor should it unconditionally surrender to the threats of tariff retaliation by our trading partners. We believe the United States has strong grounds to appeal the most recent WTO ruling. Last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative officially announced it would appeal the latest ruling.

The Senate rejected efforts to weaken COOL in the 2014 Farm Bill and the FY 2015 Agricultural Appropriations measure. Indeed, the Farm Bill added venison to the list of products that receive the COOL label. We do not believe that Congress should make any legislative change to weaken, suspend or rescind COOL at this juncture; nor do we believe it is appropriate to make legislative changes to these popular labels outside of the full view of the American public as the Appropriations Committee leadership negotiates the upcoming spending legislation. We urge you to reject any effort to undermine these commonsense labels.

Sincerely,

Agricultural Missions, Inc. (NY)
Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association American Agri-Women
American Agriculture Movement
American Federation of Government Employees (AFL- CIO),
Local 3354, USDA-St. Louis
American Grassfed Association American Outdoor Products (CO)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association Angelic Organics Learning Center (IL)

Arkansas Farmers Union
Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake County (OH)
Farmers’ Union Astronaut Foods (CO)
Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Inc. (NY)
Backpacker’s Pantry (CO)
Berks (PA)
Gas Truth
Buckeye Quality Beef Association (OH)
California Dairy Campaign
California Farmers Union
Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform
Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment
Caney Fork Headwaters Association (TN)
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (NC)
Cattle Producers of Louisiana
Cattle Producers of Washington
Center for Family Farm Development (GA)
Center for Food Safety
Center for Media and Democracy’s Food Rights Network
Center for Rural Affairs
Central Co-op (WA)
Chicago Consumer Coalition
Church Women United in New York State
Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana
The CJD Foundation
Cleanwater Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin
Coalition for a Prosperous America
Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association
Colorado Spice
Communication Workers of America Local 1082 (NJ)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Community Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Consumer Action
Consumer Assistance Council, Inc.
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Federation of California
The Consumer Federation of the Southeast
Consumers Union
Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias
The Cornucopia Institute
Cornucopia Network NJ/TN Chapter
Crawford Stewardship Project (WI)
Crowley-Kiowa-Lincoln (CO)
Stock Growers Cumberland Countians for Ecojustice (TN)
Dakota Resource Council
Dakota Rural Action of SD
Delmar Farmers Market (NY)
Dock to Dish (NY)
East New York Farms!
United Community Centers Eco-Justice Ministries (CO)
Ecological Farming Association (CA)
The Ecology Party of Florida
Equal Exchange
Ethical Eating Task Force (CO)
Fair World Project (OR)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm Aid
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Farmworker Association of Florida
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. Food & Water Watch
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Democracy Now!
Friends of the Earth U.S.
Georgia Organics
Glenn Miller Seed, Inc. (OR)
Global Justice Ecology Project
Government Accountability Project
Grassroots International
Hawaii Farmers Union United
Hmong National Development, Inc.
Idaho Organization of Resource Councils
Illinois Agri-Women
Illinois Farmers Union
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND)
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming
Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas
Indian Nations Conservation Alliance
Indiana Farmers Union
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy International Brotherhood of Teamsters
International Texas Longhorn Association
Intertribal Agriculture Council
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Iowa Farmers Union
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (MD)
Kansas Cattlemen’s Association
Kansas Farmers Union
The Kitchen Community (CO)
The Land Connection (IL)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy,
Teachers College Columbia University (NY)
Loretto Earth Network (CO)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)
Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society
Marais River Livestock Association (MT)
Massachusetts Consumers’ Council, Inc.
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (WI)
Michigan Farmers Union
Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association
Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota State National Farmers Organization
Mississippi Assoc. of Cooperatives
Missouri Farmers Union
Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Missouri’s Best Beef Cooperative
Montana Farmers Union
Murray County (OK)
Independent Cattlemen’s Association
National Consumers League
National Family Farm Coalition
National Farmers Organization
National Farmers Union
National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry
National Hmong American Farmers, Inc.
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
National Organic Coalition
National Women Involved in Farm Economics
National Young Farmers Coalition
Nature Abounds (PA)
Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility 
of United Church of Christ
Nevada Live Stock Association
New England Farmers Union (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI,VT)
New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
New York Women Involved in Farm Economics
N. Carolina Assoc. of Black Lawyers
Land Loss 
Prevention Project
North Dakota Farmers Union
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance
Northeast Organic Farming Assoc- MA
Northeast Organic Farming Assoc. NH
Northeast Organic Farming Assoc. – NJ
Northeast Organic Farming Assoc. – NY
Northeast Organic Farming Assoc. – RI
Northeast Organic Farming Association, Interstate Council (NOFA-IC)
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers Assoc.
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (MA)
Northwest Farm Bill Action Group
Northwest Farmers Union
Northwest Forest Worker Alliance (CA, OR & WA)
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance
Ohio Farmers Union
Oregon Consumers League
Oregon Rural Action
Organic Consumers Association
Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM)
Organic Seed Alliance
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA)
Organization for Competitive Markets
Partnership for Earth Spirituality
PCC Natural Markets (WA)
Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group (PBCCG) (PA)
Pennsylvania Farmers Union
Pennypack Farm and Education Center (PA)
Pesticide Action Network North America
Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY)
Progressive Agriculture Organization (PA)
Public Citizen
R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America
Ranch Foods Direct (CO)
Raritan Headwaters Association (NJ)
Real Food for Kids – Montgomery (MD)
Real Men Charities, Inc.
Rochester Technology & Manufacturing Association (NY)
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
Rooted in Community (CA)
Roots of Change (CA)
Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA)
Rural and Agricultural Council of America
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural
Rural Vermont
Sister Eden (MD)
Small Planet Institute
South Dakota Farmers Union
South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association South Dakota Stockgrowers Association
Texas Farmers Union
Tilth Producers of Washington
Tooling, Manufacturing and Technologies Assoc. (MI)
Transition Newton & Northwest NJ
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness
Ministries Valley Organic Growers Association (CO)
Virginia Association for Biological Farming
Virginia Citizens Consumer Council
Walter’s Signs (NJ)
Western Colorado Congress
Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC)
WhyHunger
Williams County Alliance (OH)
Wisconsin Farmers Union
Women, Food and Agriculture Network