U.S. cattle groups call for clear labels


Jeff DeYoung, Iowa Farmer Today

AgUpdate - Nov 17, 2020


Eric Nelson says he believes consumers would pay a premium for a beef product they knew was bred, born, raised and processed in the U.S.


Nelson, who farms and feeds cattle in northwest Iowa, serves as Region 7 director for R-CALF USA. He says restoring the Mandatory Country of Origin Label (MCOOL) will assure consumers they are eating U.S. beef.


MCOOL was repealed in 2015, the result of a complaint to the World Trade Organization from Canada and Mexico. Among other items, the WTO said the label gave preferential treatment to U.S. products.


Nelson says a growing percentage of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported.


“We have displaced a big chunk of the cattle industry, which is the single biggest sector in agriculture,” he says.


He says R-CALF would like to see MCOOL restored in a manner that meets WTO approval. But he says the U.S. election has resulted in a slowdown on progress to meet that goal.


“I personally know of congressional offices that are working to restore MCOOL, but much of it had to wait until the election was over,” he says. “We’re very optimistic that we will see something happen.


“We raise a high-quality product, and right now we don’t have the ability to label that.”


Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the NCBA supports origin labeling, but wants it to be a voluntary program.


According to NCBA policy, the program should be market-driven rather than being a mandated, government-run program...