Country of Origin Labeling for Fruits and Vegetables

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Country–of–origin labeling (COOL) provisions for fresh fruits and vegetables were included in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (hereafter referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill) and would have required retailers to inform consumers of the country of origin for covered products in Oct. 2003. That law included fruits and vegetables as well as beef, pork and lamb, fish, and peanuts. Covered commodities were to be exclusively produced and processed in the United States to be deemed of U.S. origin. The USDA issued voluntary guidelines for COOL on October 11, 2002 as a step in the progression toward the mandatory program prescribed by the 2002 Farm Bill. After a great deal of debate over the costs and benefits of mandatory COOL, the FY 2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act delayed implementation of COOL until Sept. 30, 2006 for all covered commodities except wild and farm–raised fish and shellfish. It was delayed again in 2006 for another two years with passage of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2006.

John VanSickle
Choices magazine, a publication of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association