The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska are pushing for the advancement of a state resolution to support country of origin labeling of meats.The resolution, LR 414, was introduced by Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis, a former ICON board member.
LR 414 asks the President, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the U.S. Congress and the United States Trade Representative to protect Nebraskans as well as all citizens of the United States by supporting Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) labels that identify meat purchases, and refuse to change the current law governing the labeling process.
“We need to send a message to Washington,” Davis said. “A message from the number one industry in Nebraska – the cattle industry, to protect our residents by giving them the same advantage as foreign consumers; the opportunity to have country of origin labeling on our meat purchases so we can make informed choices.”
The resolution goes a step further and encourages those leaders to express concerns to the World Trade Organization and ask the WTO to abide by U.S. law and regulations for COOL.
“I find it interesting that Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Cattlemen are worried about WTO compliance for COOL,” said ICON president Dave Wright. “During testimony against LR 414, NFB points out that Canadian beef will have a disadvantage to U.S. beef if COOL is passed. What would be the disadvantage? Are foreign auto makers at a disadvantage to U.S. auto makers? Are foreign clothing manufacturers at a disadvantage to U.S. clothing manufacturers? “
In recent years, opposition from Canada and Mexico weakened COOL legislation by changing the labeling law so beef born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. was mislabeled as a mixed-origin product. The USDA in November 2013 changed the regulations so U.S. beef was not labeled as a mixed-origin product, the ICON statement said.
Meat exports are labeled from the U.S. or from Nebraska, Wright said.
“It is clear that labeling U.S. beef in a foreign market is profitable,” he said.
Wright added a Washington D.C. appeals court has just upheld COOL.
ICON encourages cattlemen in Nebraska to encourage state and national leaders to move forward with COOL. That will not only protect the Nebraska and U.S. cattle industry but all consumers who seek to be familiar with the background of the food they eat, Wright said.