Congress is poised to vote on a spending bill that includes a big delay in one portion of the federal farm bill, a measure that would require farmers to track food they raise and label it to show where it was produced. Iowa Farmers Union president Gary Hoskey says that delay goes against what consumers want. The senate’s to vote today (Tuesday) on an omnibus spending bill that includes a 2-year delay in country-of-origin labeling even though it’s already in a law that was passed and signed by the president. Foes of COOL — country-of-origin labeling — wrote the measure to hold off its implementation till 2007, but Hoskey says the discovery of a U.S. case of Mad Cow last month proved the program’s value. Hoskey says the industry’s taken a big financial hit since the discovery of BSE in an animal slaughtered in the U.S., and had the country-of-origin labeling been in effect he says that cow would have been labeled “born in Canada.” House Republicans who oppose COOL say it would increase the cost of producing food, and wrote a measure to delay its implementation until 2007. But the Farmers Union just surveyed 900 American consumers and this week reported the survey found they want the labeling. He says 80-percent of people surveyed favor country-of-origin labeling, as the group expected, and he says they not only want to buy food they know was grown by American farmers, they’re willing to pay a bit more to support them and get the assurance that it’s safer. Hoskey says the result of discovering the BSE case is going to be a national I.D. system for all livestock, and he says there’s no reason not to combine that with COOL, since the records will have to be kept. He says critics of such food tracking greatly exaggerate how much it would cost. BSE, bovine spongiform encephalopathy or Mad Cow, was found in one dairy cow slaughtered last month in the Pacific Northwest, though the animal was found to have been born in Canada.
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