ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
Technical barrier to trade
Senator Al Franken (Democrat of Minnesota) and four other senators introduced the 'Dairy COOL Act' (S.831) on April 14, 2011. The bill would require country of origin labeling (COOL) on liquid milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and 'any other dairy product.' Retailers would be required to display the country of origin of each dairy ingredient or component, as well as the country of origin of the processing of a covered dairy product or component. A dairy product, or product containing dairy ingredients produced entirely in the United States need only identify U.S. origin and does not require further designation of state, region or other sub-national identification.
Imported dairy products are already required to identify the country of origin. This bill would extend COOL to the ingredients list. Franken originally introduced this bill in the 111th Congress (2009-2010) as S.1783. It was referred to the Agriculture Committee, which took no action on the measure.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has already expressed concern about the proposal. According to the IDFA, the measure could merely encourage manufacturers of processed dairy products to 'substitute vegetable based or other protein ingredients instead of dairy ingredients' in order to minimize the burdensome labeling requirements. The group also is worried that, if it were to become law, it could invite retaliation by countries that import U.S. products that contain dairy ingredients.
The bill has not garnered the support of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). Like the IDFA, the NMPF objects to the bill's use of 'vague' terminology. Chris Galen of NMPF also pointed out that the new COOL for meat, currently under challenge by Canada and 13 third parties in the World Trade Organization (DS384) 'is an indication of the challenges involved in this type of labeling.'
The bill has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, of which two cosponsors are members. The committee is currently beginning work on a new five-year farm bill, but it is not known as of this report what the chances are for incorporation of the measure into a final bill.
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