||Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00
September 22, 2006 (Billings, Mont.) - R-CALF USA applauds the bipartisan support that Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) enjoys from both Montana Senators. Independent cattle producers from across the state are hopeful that the leadership of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., will help put M-COOL implementation back on track."
R-CALF USA commends Burns, who recently sent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a letter which stated in part, that the agency had overestimated - by a wide margin - the costs of implementation. In the letter, Burns requested that USDA, as soon as possible, provide a new cost estimate for full implementation of the program, which was signed into law on May 13, 2002, as part of the 2002 Farm Bill.
"We're now labeling fish and shellfish, and that doesn't appear to have many problems," Burns pointed out. "I've asked USDA to look at the fish rules and see if we can learn from that program to make the beef rules less burdensome.
"I've also asked the USDA to revise its initial cost estimates for COOL based on the new information we have from fish labeling," he continued. "I think the USDA's initial estimates were way off base, and hopefully with some real-world experience, we can get a more reasonable number."
Burns also said he has received a verbal commitment from USDA to issue a revised cost analysis of M-COOL.
"COOL is the law of the land," Burns concluded. "The folks in the countryside need some assurances that we're going to get COOL implemented."
Baucus also is appreciated for consistently advocating quick implementation of M-COOL. Last November, he and Burns proposed legislation that would have restored M-COOL's implementation date to Sept. 30, 2006. Opponents of M-COOL successfully delayed the program's launch date to 2008.
Baucus said he has fought hard to implement Mandatory COOL.
"Montana's ranchers produce the highest quality meat in the world, and it is vital that consumers know where their meat comes from so they can choose the highest quality product," Baucus said. "I will continue to fight for COOL to make sure Mandatory COOL is not delayed any further. Congress passed it, the President signed it, and now it is time to implement it."
"Country-of-Origin Labeling is an extremely important tool for U.S. cattle producers, and it's time to implement this law," said R-CALF USA President and Region V Director Chuck Kiker. "We look forward to working with Senator Burns and Senator Baucus, and other members of Congress, to encourage the Administration to quickly implement Mandatory COOL for U.S. cattle producers."
Note: To view Burns' Aug. 4, 2006, letter to Johanns, please visit www.r-calfusa.com and go to "Country-of-Origin Labeling."
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, non-profit organization and is dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on both domestic and international trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 47 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA has more than 60 affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.
Contact: Shae Dodson, Communications Coordinator
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