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Gathering support for MCOOL in Farm Bill

Gathering support for MCOOL in Farm Bill

The ag community has until June 24 to sign onto a letter from Senator Mike Rounds

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A U.S. senator is seeking support for mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) to be included in the 2024 Farm Bill.

Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) is asking farmers, ranchers and legislative colleagues who agree with MCOOL to sign his letter to members of the Senate Ag Committee by June 24.

MCOOL became law in the U.S. in the 2002 Farm Bill.

This meant products like beef in grocery stores, for example, had to have labels identifying where the animal was born, raised and processed. It also forced processors to keep domestic and imported beef separate.

Congress repealed MCOOL in 2015 after the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed with Canada and Mexico that MCOOL violated international trade rules. The WTO also granted Mexico and Canada the right to impose $1 billion in tariffs.

In March of this year, the USDA finalized a rule that “Product of USA” or “Made in USA” labels can be placed on meat, poultry and eggs products born, raised and processed in the U.S.

But it’s time for the U.S. to reinstate MCOOL to give consumers choice between U.S. and imported beef, Sen. Rounds said.

“U.S. farmers and ranchers work hard to produce high-quality products for their fellow Americans,” he wrote in his letter. “They deserve to have their beef differentiated from foreign-made product. Consumers want to be able to purchase beef born, raised and processed in the United States without wondering if it’s secretly coming from a foreign country.”

Multiple industries have voiced support for MCOOL.

This includes livestock group R-CALF, which also received support from veterans.

A May 2024 letter includes the names of more than 400 veterans who believe MCOOL is the right course of action.

The veterans “urge Congress to pass mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef so our citizens can once again support America’s cattle farmers and ranchers by distinguishing our USA-produced product in grocery stores across America,” the letter says.

Consumers also appear to be in favour of MCOOL.

A poll conducted in 2022 showed that 77 percent of respondents want their beef to be American.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has been vocal about its opposition to MCOOL.

“Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers.  On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.” Craig Uden, then president of the NCBA, told a House committee in March 2017.

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