Members of the Iowa Farm Bureau will take a vote on the controversial “Country of Origin” food labeling plan today (Thursday) as part of their annual meeting. Farm Bureau vice president Craig Hill says the American Farm Bureau originally supported the bill that would require food to be labeled with a sticker telling buyers the country where it was produced. He says it sounded like it might be a good deal for consumers, because it would give them more knowledge about what country the food came from. Hill says after the Farm Bill was adopted, studies surfaced showing the country of origin labeling or “COOL” would cost producers money. Hill says some estimates show it could cost as much as $50 per head of cattle and $3 to $10 per hog. Hill says it’s great to put the flag on products, and he says the American consumer may respond. But Hill says they’re taking another look at it, because of what it may cost producers. Hill says if Iowa members vote in favor of the labeling, they will lobby congress to lift a two-year hold placed on the project. But, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says it may be too late. Grassley thinks the two-year delay effectively kills COOL. Iowa Congressman Tom Latham disagrees that the issue is dead, but he doubts the Farm Bureau will support it. Latham says you find out in Congress that nothing is ever done. He says the consensus seems to be going to a voluntary program. Latham says he’s yet to find a farmer who says the labeling “would put another dime in his pocket.” Latham says if he’s wrong and the Farmer Bureau pushes for the labeling, it could be resurrected next year.
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