National Farmers Union President Tom Buis made the following statement today after receiving a copy of letters sent to interested parties by Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., Senior Group Vice President James Lochner:
"The Tyson letters indicate they plan to meet the intent of mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, by labeling the majority of their beef and pork products as USA. In letters to cattle and hog producers, along with retail customers, Tyson's recognizes that around 90% of all fresh retail beef and pork cuts meet the definition of USA and would qualify for the label as directed in the 2008 Farm Bill. This is the right move to make and I was pleased to receive a copy of these letters.
"The whole intent and purpose of COOL is to provide American consumers with the knowledge of their food's origin. From the farmer and rancher perspective, we are proud of the food produced in the United States and we want consumers to be able to differentiate our high quality products in the grocery store. Despite the clear language in the 2008 Farm Bill, we learned just a few weeks ago that meat packers had intended to circumvent the law and label everything with a US-Canada-Mexico, or NAFTA, label. That was never part of the farm bill agreement.
"National Farmers Union has been a long-time advocate for COOL, investing significant time and effort into the program and it is gratifying that we are now working together to move the law forward as intended. I commend Tyson Meats for their willingness to step forward and take the lead. It is my hope other meat packers will follow their lead."