WASHINGTON, D.C.--Wes Sims, president of the Texas Farmers Union and a National Farmers Union (NFU) board member, testified September 26 in support of legislation that would establish mandatory country of origin labeling for meat products sold in the United States before the Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. Sims' testimony called for meaningful and accurate labeling legislation to be passed this year.
"As a cow/calf producer I am proud to have products from my farm labeled as products of the United States," said Sims. "Labels are used on many other consumer items. At a time when producers are facing extremely low prices, disastrous weather conditions, and an industry beset with high levels of concentration and integration, a label denoting country of origin can provide a valuable marketing tool and important consumer information. Labeling meat seems long overdue."
The legislation, HR 1144, sponsored by Reps. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho, and Earl Pomery, D-N.D.,would require a label on beef, pork and lamb indicating the country of origin for imported meat, regardless of where it was produced. The bill would provide for a U.S. label on meat from animals born and raised in the U.S.
"The provisions of HR 114 are good producer policy, good consumer policy and good trade policy," added Sims. "At a time when U.S. producers and processors are under rigorous production requirements and consumers are expressing an increased interest in the origin of their food, it is more important than ever that Congress adopt country of origin labeling. This legislation would provide a big boost to U.S. livestock producers."
Sims also told the subcommittee that Farmers Union is opposed to an industry-supported measure to allow a U.S. label for imported cattle. That proposal would allow operations to purchase foreign cattle 100 days prior to slaughter and still receive the "made in the USA" label. These operations are in direct competition with U.S. cow/calf producers. "This proposal would deceive consumers and harm U.S. producers by encouraging imports," said Sims.
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