The American Meat Institute (AMI) today estimated that country-of-origin labeling proposals for beef and lamb will cost more than $1 billion per year, with no benefits to either consumers or industry.
Last year, a bill that would have required such
labels on beef and lamb was defeated by
lawmakers. But a host of similar bills have
been introduced in the new Congress. AMI’s
cost estimates are the most detailed that have
ever been developed. Specifically, AMI
determined that in order for country-of-origin
labeling to work, an entirely new mandatory
animal dentification system must be designed.
Such a system would likely use ear tags to
separate domestic from imported livestock and
would cost livestock producers at least $268
million to implement.
meat segregation at slaughter would require new
record-keeping procedures, separate
accommodation in chilling, fabrication and
storage, and a host of new labels at a total
cost of $324 million per year to packers.
Product segregation at retail
markets also would be required and would
include separate storage, cutting and grinding
requirements, as well as new labeling and
signage at a cost of nearly $73 million per
year to retailers.
meat trade with Canada as a result of
retaliation is estimated at $350 million per
year in costs to packers and producers.
Oversight of country-of-origin labeling
requirements will cost the U.S. Department of
Agriculture $60 million a year.
Cattle and sheep producers have advocated
country-of-origin labels in the wake of low
livestock prices due to oversupply and
financially troubled overseas markets. These
advocates have said that product labeled U.S.
beef would be more appealing to consumers and
prompt increased purchases and greater
profitability for the industry. Pork producers
have opposed such labeling, but pork is
included in most bills introduced on this topic
Beef, pork and lamb
processors have said that such labels will be
disruptive because processors, especially those
who make ground beef, often blend U.S. and
imported product. Some country-of-origin
labeling initiatives have called for labels
that would indicate percent domestic and
Country of origin
labeling requirements also would invite
retaliation from trading partners, who are
likely to perceive such an effort as a trade
barrier. According to AMI, Canada has laid the
groundwork for a trade complaint, should such a
AMI’s President J.
Patrick Boyle called this kind of labeling
meaningless, confusing and destined to harm
U.S. exports. “While the proponents of these
initiatives are well-intentioned in trying to
help livestock producers who find themselves at
the low-end of the livestock price cycle, this
initiative will not address the real issues at
hand: overproduction, weak exports and flat
demand by consumers,” Boyle said.
“Labeling a product does not provide a
marketing advantage. American consumers
welcome imported products. We need strategic
marketing solutions, not ill-conceived market
reactions with price tags of more than $1
billion per year that will not positively
impact livestock prices.”
represents the interests of packers and
processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey
products and their suppliers throughout North
America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the
Institute provides legislative, regulatory and
public relations services, conducts scientific
and economic research, offers marketing and
technical assistance and sponsors education
AMI Says Country-of-Origin Labeling Will Cost More Than $1 Billion Per Year With No Benefits To Consumers, IndustryMonday, March 22, 1999
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