KCA Signs onto letter in support of American Beef Labeling Act of 2021
KCA recently signed on in support with other groups and cattlemen’s organizations urging members of congress to support the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021.
The American Beef Labeling Act (S.2716) addresses World Trade Organization (WTO) concerns regarding M-COOL by directing the United States Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture to determine the means of implementing M-COOL for beef in a manner compliant with WTO rules. If such means are not implemented within 12 months following enactment, beef and ground beef will be reinstated in the M-COOL statute that currently covers numerous other food commodities, 7 U.S.C. 1638 et seq.
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. Following Congress’ 2015 repeal of M-COOL for beef, retail beef prices have become disconnected from underlying cattle prices, with retail beef prices and cattle prices moving in opposite directions. For several years now, consumers have been paying record prices for beef at the grocery store while cattle producers continue receiving decade-old, depressed prices for their cattle. This disconnect raises concerns that a consolidated and uncompetitive beef packing industry is exploiting consumers, workers, and ranchers alike.
M-COOL for beef will help to subject beef packers’ control over the beef supply chain to competitive market forces. M-COOL will empower consumers to exercise choice in the grocery store by informing them of whether they are purchasing domestic beef or beef that is wholly or partially imported. By acting upon this information, consumers’ origin-related buying preferences will translate into demand signals for beef produced in a particular country. Market research indicates that America’s consumers are willing to pay more for beef harvested from cattle exclusively born and raised in the United States, and S.2716 will enable the domestic cattle and beef supply chains to be more responsive to changes in consumer demand.
M-COOL is good for meat processing workers and will stem the loss of good-paying jobs in the beef sector. Shrinking U.S. cattle harvests continue to eliminate middle class jobs within the U.S. beef sector. Without M-COOL, thousands of workers in the U.S. food industry will suffer from job losses, and a lowering of labor standards.
Many consumer goods in America as well as other food commodities like chicken, lamb, fish, fruits and vegetables, ginseng, peanuts, and other nuts have long been required to be labeled as to their origin. Domestic and foreign producers and manufacturers, alike, have long been empowered to win the consumers’ favor for those goods that they produce and manufacture, within their respective country. There is no reason to exclude beef from origin labeling requirements. The current rules allowing meat-packers to label “Product of the USA” on beef that is imported and repackaged at a U.S. processing facility, are indefensible. American consumers deserve the right to choose, American cattle farmers and ranchers deserve the right to compete for the consumers’ favor in their domestic market, and meat processing workers deserve quality jobs.
Members are urged to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and urge them to pass this legislation! KCA has long supported the implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling.