R-CALF USA has joined dozens of other organizations to request that Congress include in the FY2008 appropriations bill sufficient funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately implement mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL).

Today, the coalition sent a formal letter that includes this request to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, and to Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The letter also provides documentation to show food imports have more than doubled since 2000, with the percentage of inspections falling by nearly 40 percent.

"The integrity and safety of the nation's food supply is in serious jeopardy with our citizens eating an amalgam of food produced elsewhere, with no idea of its source," the letter states. "It is critically important that our food consumers be provided with information on the source of the food because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA have not established a food safety inspection system sufficient to deal adequately with the tidal wave of food imports included in our food supply...

"Mothers and fathers in the U.S. want to feed their children wholesome and safe food, but cannot do so when the food industry fights origin information," the letter continues. "Our domestic food safety system, with all its flaws, exceeds that of virtually all other countries...The industry's claim that labeling is irrelevant to food safety has now become absurd. Many other countries simply do not have our food production and processing regulatory standards, nor do they have the regulatory capacity to enforce even those laws that do exist...

"Consumers do not want to, and cannot, rely entirely on the government," the letter states. "A meaningful first step is to immediately implement mandatory country of origin labeling for meat and produce. Consumer choice is irrevocably connected with consumer safety.

"Mandatory country of origin labeling was approved by Congress in 2002, has been implemented successfully for seafood, and should no longer be delayed by special interests," the letter concludes. "Now is clearly the time to fully implement this measure to provide U.S. consumers with critically important information about the integrity and safety of their food choices."

R-CALF USA members have repeatedly voted to support mandatory country-of-origin labeling so consumers can be informed of the origin of their food.

Note: To view the letter to DeLauro and Kohl, visit the "Country-of-Origin Labeling" link at www.r-calfusa.com.