Washington, D.C. In an effort to ensure that families know where the dairy products in their shopping carts come from and to help New York dairy farmers stand out in a crowded marketplace, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in 40 years, reintroduced the Dairy COOL Act today. The bill would extend mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) to dairy products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s current COOL law, which went into effect in 2008, requires country of origin labeling of meats, produce, and nuts. The Dairy COOL Act would extend COOL requirements to include dairy products—including milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter.
“From milk to yogurt to cheese, New York farmers produce some of the finest dairy products available,” said Senator Schumer. “Clear labeling will enable consumers to choose the highest quality, homegrown products and make them more aware of where their food is coming from. New Yorkers are proud of the high-quality dairy products they produce and this bill will boost New York agriculture while empowering consumers to choose our own locally produced foods.”
“We must do more to protect consumers and support New York’s struggling dairy farmers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By giving consumers country of origin labeling information on all dairy products they will have the tools to choose milk, yogurt and cheese from Upstate New York instead of China. With increasing dairy imports and alarming news about tainted products from overseas, country of origin labeling will allow families to buy the best products and make informed choices for their families.”
Food imports constitute a growing share of what is sold on grocery shelves across the country and what Americans eat. Fifteen percent of America’s overall food supply is imported from overseas, including $5.2 billion worth of food from China alone. Since 1996, the U.S. agricultural trade surplus shrank from $27 billion to $8 billion in 2006. Individual shipments of food from China increased from 82,000 shipments in 2002 to 199,000 in 2006.
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s current COOL law went into effect requiring Country of Origin labeling for nuts, fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood. The Dairy COOL Act would extend COOL requirements to include dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and butter.