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House Votes to Delay Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling for Meat

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted 240 to 186 to delay implementation of Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COL) for meat and meat products.

The delay was included in the bill by House Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Henry Bonilla (R-TX). House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR) also led efforts for the delay.

"This victory further exposes the faults and unworkable structure of the current law," said AMI's Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs Mike Brown.

"For years, packers and producers have sought a market-driven COL program that keeps the pork and beef sectors competitive, domestically and internationally," said Brown. "This delay provides Congress the opportunity to draft legislation that empowers consumers to determine the availability of COL for meat products and keeps our industry competitive."

The delay provision was challenged by Reps. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) and Darlene Hooley (D-OR) who offered an amendment that would force USDA to implement Mandatory COL. AMI, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council were among several food and agricultural organizations who opposed the Rehberg-Hooley Amendment.

The House vote further demonstrates the continued momentum away from the costs, record-keeping and liabilities associated with Mandatory COL. In 2003, the House of Representatives endorsed by a 208-193 vote to delay the COL mandate for meat. In 2005, the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill (H.R. 4576) by voice-vote that would have implemented a voluntary COL program for meat, produce and seafood.

Building on this momentum, Reps. Goodlatte, Blunt and Berry are currently among 43 co-sponsors who jointly introduced the Meat Promotion Act (H.R. 2068), which would implement a workable, market-oriented country-of-origin labeling program for meat products. This bill enjoys wide bipartisan support and is backed by more than 60 major agricultural groups.


For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs

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