Friday, April 08, 2005

Meat industry coalition seeks to block country-of-origin labeling

The Hill covers recent developments in meat industry efforts to block country-of-origin labeling, which is supposed to go into effect next year.

Meat packers and other agribusinesses have formed a new lobbying coalition to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture from requiring meat to be packaged with a country-of-origin label

The group — the Meat Promotion Coalition — has hired a lobbying firm that specializes in agricultural issues to make the case on Capitol Hill that country-of-origin labeling is too costly to implement.<

Cargill, Tyson Food, the National Cattlemen’s Association and the National Pork Producers Council are among the nine members of the new coalition, which hired the firm Lesher & Russell

In a twist, the American Farm Bureau Federation, which had supported mandatory country-of-origin labeling, or COOL, is now part of the coalition. Critics already succeeded in delaying the implementation of the labeling rule — which would enable consumers to see whether their meat was 100 percent homegrown — by attaching an amendment to an omnibus appropriations measure in 2003.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials now have until Sept. 30, 2006, to finalize the rule. Congress had mandated that the USDA implement its rule in 2004 in the 2002 farm bill.

Here is the coverage of COOL controversies a few months ago by Choices Magazine, the publication of the American Agricultural Economics Association.

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