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RMFU disappointed in House COOL vote

DENVER – Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) expressed its disappointment with the U.S. House of Representatives’ narrow defeat of legislation to uphold mandatory country-of-origin meat labeling Monday.

The House rejected by a 15-vote margin an amendment to the fiscal year 2004 agriculture appropriations bill that Reps. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.) and Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.) introduced to protect implementation funding for mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork, lamb and fish. Without the amendment, the House bill essentially prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing meat labeling by the September 2004 deadline.

“Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and the farmers and ranchers it represents in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, appreciate Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.) commitment to the mandatory country-of-origin labeling law,” RMFU President John Stencel said. “Consumers in the Rocky Mountain region and across the country want to know where their food is produced, and U.S. farmers and ranchers want to provide that information.” “Reps. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) were those voting against country-of-origin labeling,” Stencel said. “Farmers Union encourages them to reconsider this position, join the bipartisan group of representatives that supported country-of-origin labeling, and work with others in the House and Senate to strike the language from the appropriations bill during conference committee consideration.”

“This fight is not over. Despite strong opposition from the House majority leadership, President Bush, Agriculture Secretary Veneman and meatpackers, support for COOL continues to build in the countryside,” Stencel said. “Consumers want it, independent farmers and ranchers want it and Japan, our number one beef customer, wants it. Congress needs to work with USDA to make sure they get it.”

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