Area shoppers could soon have a better idea what country their dairy products are coming from if an initiative supported by both New York senators in Washington, D.C., is enacted. Two local dairy experts said they supported the effort.

Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Dairy COOL Act on Thursday. The bill would extend mandatory country of origin labeling, or COOL, to dairy products, according to a media release from the two Democrats.

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.

Shannon Mason, owner of Danforth Jersey Farm in Jefferson, which makes Cowbella yogurt and butter, said the labeling would be "a giant step in the right direction."

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Most people want to support U.S. dairy farmers and related businesses, she said.

"This will make it easier," she said.

She would like to see the labeling go further so people can support local agriculture, she said.

Delaware County Cornell Cooperative Extension educator Mariane Kiraly said, "It's good for people to know where their food come from."

Dairy products are made in this country under very strict standards, she said.

If approved, this move could "level the playing field" for domestic producers dealing with imports, according to Kiraly.

"It's something the dairy industry has pushing for a long times," she said.

"From milk to yogurt to cheese, New York farmers produce some of the finest dairy products available," Schumer said in the release. Clear labeling will enable consumers to be more aware of where their food is coming from, he said.

"We must do more to protect consumers and support New York's struggling dairy farmers," Gillibrand said in the release. With increasing dairy imports and 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."

Fifteen percent of America's overall food supply is imported from overseas, including $5.2 billion worth of food from China alone, according to the senators' release.

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