By Jody Heemstra
R-CALF USA members are applauding Congressman Lance Gooden (R-Tex.) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who have introduced legislation to require the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative to reinstate mandatory country of original labeling (MCOOL) for beef.This legislation joins its companion effort already introduced in the Senate, the American Beef Labeling Act of 2021, S. 2716. The bipartisan Senate bill was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.Dak.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in September 2021. The Senate version has swelled to 10 bipartisan cosponsors with hundreds of cattle industry, manufacturing, labor and consumer groups in support.According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the United States continues to import beef from 20 different countries and approximately 135,000 head of live cattle a month from Canada and Mexico.“American cattle producers are being unfairly displaced out of their own market,” said R-CALF USA Field Director Karina Jones. “We have got to implement MCOOL immediately to give our cattle producers leverage at the meat counter and the American consumer the accurate information that they deserve. Without MCOOL, we will import ourselves out of a domestic market.”“American cattle ranchers are being undercut by foreign competition because current labeling standards allow imported beef to be marked as made in the United States if it is only packaged here,” said Rep. Gooden. “Our trade policies should promote American-made beef and put the hard-working cattle ranchers in the United States first.”“It is critical that American consumers are able to make informed decisions about the meat they buy. Consumers should be able to know that they are truly supporting American farmers and ranchers from labels at the store,” said Rep. Khanna. “Right now, consumers and producers are hurting from a lack of transparency in the marketplace. I’m glad to partner with Rep. Gooden on this bipartisan bill to reinstate common-sense mandatory country of origin labeling.”R-CALF USA and the Texas Animal Protein Producers Prosperity and Security group released a joint statement: “We applaud Representative Gooden and Khanna’s introduction of the American Beef Labeling Act in the U.S. House. This bill will empower consumers to make informed choices by requiring country of origin labels on beef purchased in grocery stores. Consumers should be able to choose beef produced under the United States’ stringent production and safety standards, and we trust American consumers will choose beef produced exclusively in America.”You can read the full text of the legislation here.