Two states known for their cowboys, Wyoming and South Dakota, have seen early introduction of COOL bills in their legislatures, respectively, in Cheyenne and Pierre. Cattlemen headquartered in neighboring Montana have not given up on a national bill.
Wyoming state Rep. Hans Hunt, R-Newcastle, has with several cosponsors introduced House Bill 198 to require country-of-origin labeling for beef that is a product of the U.S.
South Dakota state Sen. Lance Russell, also a Republican, is reportedly going to introduce a similar COOL bill in his state. It has the support of the South Dakota Stock Growers Association. The bill will not contain any punitive provisions.
The Wyoming bill calls for every retailer and every wholesaler who sells beef, which is a product of the U.S., to clearly label it, and requires the state to promulgate rules and regulations with respect to the labeling. It too is silent on any punishment for non-compliance.
Meanwhile the Billings, MT-based cattlemen’s group known as R-CALF USA, is asking the U.S. Congress to re-instate the mandatory COOL Act that was repealed for conflicting with U.S. trade obligations.
R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard said USDA’s recent addition of venison to its now voluntary COOL program falls short of what consumers want, which is country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork products.
USDA’s mandatory program was eliminated after it was found to be in conflict with existing treaty obligations by the World Trade Organization (WTO).