Consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from
Cattle Producers of Washington recently joined with the Ranchers-Cattlemen Legal Action Fund (R-CALF) to file a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to bring back Country of Origin labeling for beef products. The labeling provision that clearly marked where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered was in effect until 2016 when it was repealed by the USDA over a trade dispute.
The COOL labeling is critical both to consumers who want to know where their meat is coming from ,as well as American ranchers who benefit from having their product clearly marked in the supermarket.
CPoW President Scott Nielson, noted how important country of origin labels are to the American family ranch.
“Cattle Producers of Washington proudly raise a safe wholesome product under the rules and regulations required by our lawmakers,” said Nielsen.” We should not be forced to compete with beef from other countries that do not have the same health and safety standards without the ability to allow the American consumer to make an informed decision about what they are feeding their families.”
The lawsuit against the USDA seeks to bring back COOL by pointing out that current USDA policy allows imported beef and pork to be classified as “domestic products”, which confuses consumers and harms American ranchers. Additionally, under current rules multinational companies can sell meat raised and slaughtered abroad with a “Product of USA” label alongside truly domestic products raised by U.S. ranchers.
The USDA previously required Country-of-Origin Labeling but a trade dispute between the U.S. and countries exporting cattle to the US caused the USDA to repeal the labeling. As a result, labeling requirements regarding beef imports are now unclear and the agency has several conflicting rules on the books. Consumers have also lost the ability to make informed choices at the meat counter.
“Transnational beef packers are supplanting U.S. beef production with imported beef, including from countries with questionable food safety practices,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA. “Unfortunately, our U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping them by making sure consumers cannot distinguish imported beef from USA beef. This is harming America’s farmers and ranchers and is not what Congress intended. We hope our lawsuit helps U.S. consumers choose to buy American beef.”
Both cattlemen’s groups are being represented by Public Justice, a non-profit Washington D.C. law firm.