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AMI Testifies Against Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling, Price Reporting

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

Mandatory country-of-origin labeling and price reporting will result in enormous costs for
U.S. livestock producers, meat packers, retailers and government without any discernible benefits to consumers or industry, according to American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle.

Boyle made his statement in testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today. His comments were in response to proposed legislation requiring country-of-origin labeling for U.S. meat products and mandatory price reporting for producers.

Boyle said mandatory country-of-origin labeling would cost producers, meat packers and processors, grocers and government hundreds of millions of dollars. Boyle also cited a lack of discernible marketing advantages in mandatory country-of-origin
labeling. Voluntary labeling programs, such as the “Certified U.S.” meat program created last year by the USDA, have attracted no participants.

“We oppose mandatory country-of-origin labeling legislation as a costly and harmful requirement that has no clear marketing purpose and for which no benefits have been identified,” Boyle stated.

Mandatory price reporting would impose substantial costs on industry with no offsetting benefits, Boyle stated, and would replace a 50 year old voluntary reporting system that continues to work well. Legislation requiring mandatory price reporting would also compromise legitimate business interests of packers, their suppliers and customers and would result in a price settling effect.

“There is no evidence from the producer community or any research from universities or other independent sources suggesting that mandatory reporting would improve producer prices,” said Boyle. “It is a terrible precedent.”

Boyle also pointed out that “compromise” legislation which will soon arrive before Congress does not, in fact, reflect any consensus of the meat packing industry on price reporting. Packers continue to oppose federal and state reporting mandates.

“If Congress must consider passing legislation on price reporting, concerns about these state mandates must be addressed and a federal preemption must apply,” Boyle stated. “More importantly, the process through which Congressional legislation is developed must be more open than the discussions that resulted in the producers’ compromise legislation.”

AMI 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 programs.

For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
James Ratchford
Manager, Public Affairs

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