We are encouraged that House lawmakers recognized the problems associated with country-of-origin labeling for red meat products and voted to withhold funding for its implementation. We applaud Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) for his leadership.
This is a costly, cumbersome and ill-conceived law that will cost billions of dollars with no clear benefits to anyone - from producers to consumers. No evidence exists to support that consumers want country-of-origin labeling or are willing to pay more for it.
The meat industry supports a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program in place of a mandatory one so that those who believe they stand to benefit from the program can take advantage of it, while those who believe they will be harmed by it can choose not to participate. Notably, a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program for beef has been available for several years through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If this labeling scheme is so valuable and will increase profits as it proponents say it will, it begs the question - why has no one ever used the voluntary program?
It is our hope that the House action is the first step in the development of sound policy.