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According to FMI regulatory counsel Erik Lieberman, the USDA’s proposed rule that would further expand the record-keeping burden and scope of labeling required under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program, “adds additional paperwork burdens to a needlessly onerous regulation that is already costing retailers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, resulting in higher food prices.”
“The USDA’s proposal would impose significant, additional costs, yet it does not bring us into compliance with the World Trade Organization’s ruling, and in fact, it erects new trade barriers that will set the stage for retaliatory tariffs,” Lieberman said in a statement. “If tariffs are imposed by our most important trading partners, we will inevitably witness job losses and price increases.”
“Rather than providing regulatory relief to lower consumer costs and reduce the barriers COOL poses to trade, the proposed rule makes it even more difficult for retailers to comply and consumers to understand,” he added. “Indeed, USDA’s proposal creates a series of new and confusing labels.”
Lieberman argues that supermarkets have made country-of-origin information available to the public for years, adding that the “proposed rule necessitates the need for legislative changes to bring the law into compliance with our trade commitments in a way that works for consumers and the entire supply chain.”
“FMI stands ready to work with Congress to reform COOL to create a system which provides consumers with information they want on the origin of products while not imposing unnecessary paperwork burdens on food retailers," Lieberman said.
Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its nearly 1,250 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world.