More than two years after the 2002 farm bill put into motion a review of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 in regards to the labeling of produce, meat (including beef, pork, veal and lamb) and seafood with country of origin information, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House Agriculture Committee to initiate voluntary country of origin labeling (COOL).

At a press conference June 15, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm, explained the bill, which at its introduction had 13 sponsors and the support of 325 organizations.

The bill allows producers to work with processors and retailers to provide labeling information in the marketplace in such a way that informs consumers and benefits producers.

“The legislation will strike the onerous mandatory system and require the secretary of agriculture to establish in its place a rigorous voluntary program,” says Goodlatte. “This will allow producers to work with processors and retailers to provide labeling information to help them market their product. This approach, which benefits consumers and producers, is preferable to a mandatory program, which is more likely to hurt the folks it was intended to help.”

The bill, available for viewing at http://agriculture.house.gov, provides for labeling of beef, meat products, lamb, pork, farm-raised fish, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables as related to their country or origin and provides limitations for labeling products as U.S. country of origin without meeting guidelines for product history and harvesting.