The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee acknowledges that the controversial country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law still lacks agreement about what the law says, how it should be implemented and if it will ultimately do more harm than good.

At a congressional hearing on June 26, committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) says he favors a voluntary approach to COOL.

“This hearing reinforces my belief that we are moving forward with an idea that will have a negative impact on our producers and little or not benefit for those it was intended to help,” he observes.

Starting on Sept. 30, 2004, the labeling law requires that retailers provide country-of-origin labeling on fresh fruits and vegetables, red meats, seafood and peanuts. The program is voluntary until then. When mandatory, retailers may be fined up to $10,000 per violation.

For more information on COOL, log onto www.countryoforiginlabel.org .