National Farmers Union (NFU)

COOL: A salute to consumers in the International Year of Family Farming

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Courtesy of National Farmers Union (NFU)

This month we are celebrating one particular aspect of the International Year of Family Farming: the consumer. In order to be successful, family farmers must always have consumers and their needs in mind, which is why NFU has been a long-time champion of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat, poultry and seafood. More than 90 percent of consumers want to know the origin of their food, and NFU is committed to ensuring that they are able to do so.

Our members understand the importance of information when consumers make decisions about their food. NFU policy calls for strong COOL rules and laws to “ensure consumers can make informed purchase decisions.” We have a long history of supporting food labeling efforts, and can trace the beginnings of the push for COOL all the way back to local Farmers Union meetings almost 40 years ago.

COOL for unprocessed meat, poultry, and seafood in grocery stores has been required since 2008, and was revised two months ago to better describe where the animal was born, raised, and slaughtered. But that information is under attack in the farm bill negotiations, where an effort to repeal COOL is rumored to be in the works.

It borders on the absurd that meat processing companies are fighting tooth and nail to repeal a law that simply requires the country (or countries) of origin for muscle-cuts of meat to be labelled. The general public ought to be appalled that this is even an issue in today’s information-driven marketplace.

The trend of additional information about food is widespread and fast-moving. Adjectives play a big role in food labeling and marketing these days. All-natural. Organic. Grass-fed. Local. Low-fat. Vegan. Cage-free. Is it too much to ask to add “American” or “Canadian” or “Chinese” to this list?

How can you help support NFU’s efforts to ensure consumers have all the facts about their food? First, you can donate to the U.S. COOL Defense Fund, which helps NFU defend COOL against lawsuits by deep-pocketed multinational meatpackers. And, of course, you can always become a Farmers Union member and join us directly in the fight.

In this International Year of Family Farming, it’s time to take a stand in support of consumers’ right to know where their food comes from and for farmers to be able to tell them. Let’s celebrate the hard work of family farmers by proudly stamping that important information on our food.

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