It was yet another confusing step added to what has already been one of the most screwed-up rulemaking processes in history. Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack let it be known that the rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) would go forward as proposed. He then followed it up with a whole set of his own suggested changes (see “Vilsack Asks Industry To Go Beyond COOL Rule” elsewhere in this newsletter).
These included: the inclusion of processed foods, labeling of mixed-country product, and a shortening of the time allowance on ground beef from 60 to 10 days. In his letter, he also indicated that if his voluntary suggestions weren’t followed, additional rules would be forthcoming.
Canadian producers responded by asking their government to reinvigorate the World Trade Organization challenge that earlier had been pulled off the table.