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COOL Becomes Hot Again - Meat Labeling Headed for Court

PHOTO: The Country-of-Origin (COOL) labeling law is headed to court, with Montana Farmers Union holding rallies this month to support the law. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: The Country-of-Origin (COOL) labeling law is headed to court, with Montana Farmers Union holding rallies this month to support the law. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
August 19, 2013

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - A court will soon be chewing on a tough decision related to meat. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and American Meat Institute have filed suit to try to stop the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law for meat, a law that has been on the books since 2008. The National Farmers Union and U.S. Cattlemen's Association are firing back, asking to become intervenors to support the law.

According to Alan Merrill, president of the Montana Farmers Union, rallies are planned in Montana starting next week with one in Shelby.

"There are so many people that are in support of COOL that we're confident that we will continue on with COOL after the litigation is through," Merrill said.

Those filing suit cite World Trade Organization rulings against COOL, as well as costs to producers and meat companies.

Merrill said the rallies will also serve as fundraisers, since it's estimated it will cost at least $200,000 to get involved in the suit.

The Montana Farmers Union's support for COOL is almost ten years strong, with Merrill pointing out that consumers like to know where their meat comes from, and that producers are proud of their local products. He said the bottom line for those against COOL is solely about money.

"If you can get cheap cows from another country and bring them through the process without labeling them, that's their main concern," he charged.

The Shelby rally is to be Monday, August 26, 10:30 a.m. at the Marias Fairgrounds. Further rallies are planned in Lewistown, Fox and Valier, with events also scheduled in North and South Dakota.

Event listings are at USCoolDefenseFund.org.

Groups suing to stop COOL: National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Meat Institute, Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association, American Association of Meat Processors and Southwest Meat Association. Groups filing as intervenors: National Farmers Union, U.S. Cattlemen's Association, American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumer Federation of America.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT