The national cattlemen’s beef association has filed a lawsuit to stop the national country-of-origin labeling of meat program, and supporters of the labeling are crying foul. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association receives money from the beef checkoff to promote beef, but is prohibited from engaging in political actions.
Country of origin labeling was enacted by Congress in 2002 so consumers would know if their meat comes from the USA or from other countries, but a series of lawsuits, administrative challenges and political actions have stalled its enactment.
Meat processors don’t want the labels, saying the will require an expensive tracking system. Some meat animals are born in one country, raised in another country and slaughtered in a third country, they say. Such meats as hamburger, especially, are commingled from several sources.
A major hurdle was cleared in May, when the USDA declared the labels would simply state where the meat animal was 1) born, 2) raised and 3) slaughtered.
On July 8, the NCBA joined a federal lawsuit initiated by the American Meat Institute, a meat processors advocacy group, to stop the labeling.
But another national cattleman’s group, R-CALF USA, is calling on the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to terminate all contracts between the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the beef checkoff program.
“It is a clear conflict of interest for an organization funded by cattle producers to turn around and fight against their interests and the interests of U.S. consumers,” R-CALF said.
"It is outrageous that a group that feeds at the government trough is allowed to file a lawsuit to stop consumers from knowing where their food is produced," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, "We are circulating petitions so livestock producers and consumers can voice their opposition and offer a solution to this unconscionable situation."
Bullard said his group is circulating a printable petition so livestock producers and consumers can gather signatures within their local communities and at public gathering places such as livestock auction yards.