Press Release: USA 001 - June 19, 2003


Stopping COOL funding would devastate the US beef industry

SARASOTA FL - The House subcommittee on agriculture appropriations voted to stop funding for mandatory country-of-origin labeling and its implementation for a year. Rep. Bonilla (R-TX) authored the amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Bill. The amendment only affects beef and other meats, but keeps COOL provisions in place for all other food items.

The timing of such an action is puzzling, in the last year BSE or Mad-Cow has made it’s way into the North American food chain, causing millions of dollars in losses, which a labeling and tracking system could have prevented. In the United States, the FDA has ordered a Labeling Law for all food entering this country. In just the last week both Japan and Korea have implemented mandatory Country of Origin Labeling laws for all beef imports. In the United States, the FDA has ordered a Labeling Law for all food entering this country. The COOL program seems to be needed now more than ever if the United States beef industry is to compete in foreign markets. Even Rep. Bonilla once stated, “This funding will keep our nation’s agriculture industry strong. It will keep our food safe. And it will keep our nation prepared.” Yet, Rep. Bonilla now feels differently.

At the heart of the argument against COOL is not consumer awareness or food safety, but is the cost to packers and producer groups who have a powerful lobby in Washington. What is not being added into the cost benefit analysis is the loss the beef and meat industry will lose in sales to foreign markets that require Country of Origin Labeling.

The agribusiness PAC “donated” $250,414 to Rep. Bonilla’s re-election campaign, and groups like the packers and processors who are against the COOL program are part of that powerful PAC.

The anti-COOL groups feel the cost and time of implementing the Country of Origin Labeling provisions are too high and would not be cost effective. Although ScoringSysytem, Inc., based in Sarasota Florida can manage their records for around a penny a package at the consumer level.

ScoringSystem, Inc. developed the only secure web-based application that can track the entire history of an animal to be in compliance with the COOL laws. The infrastructure is in place and is inexpensive to use. The process was created by farmers, and developed by top engineering professionals. It’s low-cost, ease of use, and security will allow the beef and meat industry to remain competitive in the world market, and give consumers piece of mind knowing that their food is safer with the COOL laws in effect.