The Montana Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization working for Montana’s cattle producers on issues that affect the viability of the cattle industry. We are taking the opportunity to comment on this important debate regarding the future of the Product of USA label concerning beef. We agree that since the repeal of Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling this label has been used to deceive and confuse consumers on the beef they purchase.
We have researched this controversy and even spoke about it at our convention in December with a representative of Senator Rounds’ office present. Senator Rounds’ USA Beef Act redefines this label. It states that product labeled as such should only be from cattle Born, Raised and Slaughtered in the USA. We understand that FSIS has jurisdiction over this label. The Secretary of Ag has stated the new administration is interested in a correct label and would want FSIS to enforce its correct use, going so far as describing the fines and the amount that could be levied for misuse. The USA Beef Act provides for the new definition. We are for keeping the Product of USA label only if the Rounds bill is passed describing the definition of the new label as stated.
In speaking with the Rounds office, they believe that this voluntary label will be compliant with the WTO concerning Trade Agreements that are now in effect, thus avoiding the hassles that killed the Mandatory COOL bill. While this label is voluntary, its use would be far better than the current corrupt use centered around the label now. The MCA also believes that the Rounds Beef Act could be passed far quicker than a WTO compliant mandatory label. Of course, a Mandatory beef label would be best and we support that legislation also; however, it is going to be a battle that will take a long time and may be impossible to pass.
There are now informed consumers that would like a legitimate label showing where their beef comes from, and we feel we must take advantage of this opportunity while we have the chance.
Thank you for the opportunity to express our views for cattle producers and consumers on this matter.
Montana Cattlemen’s Association