KRTV: Montana Ag Network: bill would reinstate mandatory Country Of Origin Labeling

by Russel Nemetz

New bipartisan legislation will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate to re-instate mandatory Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association vice president Justin Tupper says it’s long overdue for both ranchers and consumers.

“It goes back to common sense and consumers want to know where their product comes from,” said Tupper. “We know that they’re willing to pay for a product that they know is safe and came from the United States and hardworking ranchers. And we have a bill now that would take us back to that. What effect it will have on the cattle market is something we don’t know yet, but I have to believe it will be a positive.”

The American Beef Labeling Act would require the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, to develop a World Trade Organization-compliant means of reinstating MCOOL for beef within one year of enactment.

“The spotlight has been on us and the industry to try to get something done,” said Tupper. “A tip of the cap to Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for having the courage to push forward this mandatory country of origin labeling bill.”

USTR would have six months to develop a reinstatement plan followed by a six-month window to implement it. If USTR fails to reinstate MCOOL for beef within one year of enactment, it would automatically be reinstated for beef only.

“Montana ranchers raise the best cattle in the world, and it’s time American families are guaranteed the right to know whether their beef is from Broadus or Brazil,” said Tester. “This bipartisan legislation will make sure consumers know when they’re buying American beef at the supermarket, and it will defend Montana’s family farmers and ranchers by leveling the playing field.”

It’s been nearly seven years since mandatory country of origin labeling for beef was repealed.

Other sponsors of the bill include Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.)