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The National Grocers Association (NGA) urged the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US House of Representatives this week to insure that recordkeeping and labeling burdens related to Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and imposed upon retailers, wholesalers and suppliers are “flexible and limited to those that are kept in the normal course of business so as to reduce the billions of dollars in compliance costs and burdens.”

According to a statement issued yesterday, “While not changing N.G.A.’s support and preference for market driven labeling programs, N.G.A. called for lessening the regulatory and recordkeeping burdens of mandatory country of origin labeling which are viewed as punitive and costly. USDA estimates between $582 million and $3.9 billion dollars in first year implementation costs will face the industry, with $247 million to $3.3 billion being borne by retailers and wholesalers. N.G.A. also noted that any consideration of final regulations by USDA will likely be delayed and have to be changed if the legislation revising the country of origin labeling requirements is passed by Congress in the Farm Bill.”
KC's View:
I agree completely that the government has to work with industry to make sure that the costs of COOL are not so high and so focused on retailers that they become an unfair burden.

But I also think that the food industry in general has to be careful about using phrases like “lessening the regulatory and recordkeeping burdens of mandatory country of origin labeling which are viewed as punitive and costly.” Because I’m not sure that consumers see them in that way. I think consumer see COOL through the prism of the numerous headlines that keep popping up about unsafe imported foods…and increasingly they may feel that any industry that tries to avoid its responsibilities in this manner is insensitive to their needs and irrelevant to their desires.

This is the simple reality. The rest of it is meaningless to consumers – who, in the end, have to be the final and most important consideration.