WASHINGTON -- Time is running out for supermarkets to convince Capitol Hill lawmakers this year to nix a mandatory COOL labeling law, congressional backers of the repeal told Food Marketing Institute board members, who met during a breakfast at the Hart Senate Office Building here last week.
Country-of-origin labeling, known as COOL, is set to go into effect next fall for beef, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and fresh and frozen produce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is soon expected to release regulations detailing labeling requirements, which grocers argue will cost supermarkets between $1.5 billion and $2 billion a year in recordkeeping alone.
However, with Congress set to adjourn for the year by mid-November and with a pile of must-do business before lawmakers, tackling COOL appears to be on the back burner.
"A good education campaign could change this," Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), told the gathering of supermarket officials.
Goodlatte, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a COOL opponent, urged FMI grocers to continue appealing to their suppliers to oppose COOL, and pressure senators and representatives to do the same. Like the grocery industry, Goodlatte supports a voluntary labeling effort that would appease farmers and ranchers who support the measure.