The legislation would remove certain meats from the labeling program and create a voluntary “Product of the U.S." label.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

July 28, 2015

2 Min Read
Senators Introduce Bill to Change Country of Origin Labeling

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) last week introduced legislation that would modify a country of origin labeling program for meats.

The rule, adopted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), requires certain meats specify the country where an animal was raised, born and slaughtered. It also prohibits comingling of meat cuts, which means that meats deriving from different countries cannot be combined, according to a 2013 lawsuit.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held last year that USDA’s rule breached a trade agreement “because it accords to Canadian and Mexican livestock less favorable treatment than that accorded to like US livestock."

The U.S. government appealed the WTO ruling, but a number of findings were affirmed in May 2015.

The Voluntary Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Act of 2015 would remove certain meats from the labeling program and create a voluntary “Product of the U.S." label for beef, chicken, ground meat and pork that come from animals born, raised and harvested in the United States, according to a July 23 news release issued by Stabenow’s office.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).

"Michigan farmers and ranchers take pride in raising the world's safest and most affordable foods, and parents in Michigan want to know as much as possible about what their kids are eating," Stabenow, a ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. "If consumers in Canada have the right to know where their food comes from through a voluntary labeling system, then American consumers should have the same. This bill is a path forward and will encourage international trade while giving families peace of mind."

Some organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have expressed concern that upon a WTO finding of noncompliance, Mexico and Canada would retaliate against U.S. exports before Congress acts. According to Canadian livestock industry estimates, the labeling requirement has cost producers on both sides of the border more than $1 billion.

In a July 23 statement, Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast said Stabenow’s legislation was inadequate to address Canada’s concerns.

"The only acceptable outcome remains for the United States to repeal COOL or face $3B in annual retaliation," Ritz and Fast said.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the health and nutrition industry.
Join 37,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like