Right now, country of origin labeling (COOL) is in jeopardy in the farm bill conference.  We know that some conferees intend to introduce an amendment shortly that will gut or repeal U.S. COOL.  If this amendment passes, U.S. ranchers will not be able to differentiate their product with a U.S. label and consumers will not have the information they need at the point of purchase.  

The anti-COOL groups and their supporters want U.S. beef to become a generic product of North America.  In reality, there's nothing more important to a competitive, free market than the ability to differentiate one's product and that's what COOL does.  There's nothing more fundamental to giving consumers information about the origin of their beef than COOL. 

Why would anyone oppose COOL? 

We know the truth:  we know that opposing COOL has nothing to do with costs because that scare tactic has been dispelled; we know that opposing COOL doesn't have anything to do with a lack of consumer interest because survey after survey has proven consumers want and deserve country of origin information; we know that opposing COOL has nothing to do with retaliatory tariffs because that worn out scare tactic has also been dispelled.

Giving consumer's choices empowers them and allowing U.S. producers to differentiate their product empowers them. Isn't that what competitive free markets should do, empower both the seller and buyer? - that's the American way.

Now is the time to take a stand for COOL and there's no time to waste.  Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202/224-3121 and ask for one of our elected official's office. Congressmen Peterson has been a leader for us on this issue.  Ask them to pick up the torch and represent Minnesota cattle producers by rejecting any amendment to the farm bill that would alter or repeal COOL and urging their fellow congressional delegates to speak up also in favor of COOL. Make no mistake about it, the fate of COOL will be decided by those elected officials taking a leadership role.

Danny Wiese owns Flying W Angus Ranch in Pequot Lakes, Minn. This is a family operation selling Angus genetic seed stock across the northern United States. His son, Dustin, just returned from college, making it a fourth generation ranch. He is also vice president of Minnesota Cattlemen's Association and a member of Farm Bureau.