Tri-State Livestock News: Hundreds of Cross-Sectional Domestic Interests Call for MCOOL

Today, over 400 cross-sectional U.S.-based trade organizations, both food and non-food small businesses, and individuals, from all across the United States, have joined a letter now being distributed to every U.S. Senator urging them to quickly endorse and enact the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 (S.2716). The act is best known as the mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) bill for beef and requires beef sold at retail grocery stores to bear a conspicuous label informing consumers as to where the animal from which the beef was derived was born, raised, and harvested.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate in September, the bipartisan MCOOL bill is sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-S.Dak.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) John Hoeven (R-N. Dak.), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N. Mex.). Sources say more cosponsors will soon be added.

Like the cross-sectional interests of the hundreds of signatories on the letter, the letter itself was written by national representatives from many segments of the United States economy, including consumers, workers, manufacturers, and farmers and ranchers.

“Federal policymakers have allowed an unaccountable, unelected international tribunal to veto labeling requirements supported by the vast majority of Americans,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at Consumer Federation of America. “This bill stands up for the consumers’ right to know, and in a way that honors U.S. trade obligations.”

“American consumers want to know where their food comes from, and Farmers Union members want to tell them,” said Rob Larew, President of National Farmers Union. “We thank the sponsors of this bill for taking an important step towards more openness and in the beef market because it will help provide fairness for farmers and ranchers. We urge Congress to swiftly pass the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021.”

“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Tester here in Montana – and all other bill cosponsors across the nation – for creating legislation that restores honesty and safety to the U.S. food system,” said Jeanie Alderson, a Birney, Montana rancher and board member of Northern Plains Resource Council. “The American Beef Labeling Act will correct our fraudulent labeling rules, help address the monopoly corruption in our cattle markets, and create trust and safety for American families who deserve to know where their food comes from.”

“For too long, the federal government has allowed foreign raised meat repackaged in the United States by multinational corporations to be labeled Product of the USA,” Mitch Jones, Managing Director of Advocacy Programs and Policy at Food & Water Watch said. “The American Beef Labeling Act rights these wrongs and provides consumers the transparency they want and deserve. The bill would also work against the ever-worsening corporate consolidation of the meat industry that is harming Americans’ health and their wallets.”

“Bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization, at the request of Canada and Mexico, told American consumers in 2014 that it was against their rules for retail beef to be labeled as to country of origin,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. “Astoundingly, our government meekly complied. It is long past time to fix this problem so families can know where their beef was raised and processed. The bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 needs to pass.”

“We applaud the sponsors and cosponsors of this important legislation,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “U.S. cattle producers strive to produce the best beef in the world for American consumers. This legislation will enable America’s consumers to choose their beef.”

In urging U.S. senators to cosponsor and quickly enact MCOOL, the letter explains, “This legislation would promote a safe and affordable supply of wholesome beef for America’s consumers; a fairer, more competitive market for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers; and quality family-sustaining jobs for meat processing workers.”