Thank goodness, ranchers in Washington State are standing up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by filing a lawsuit to force them to reinstate Country of Origin Labeling on meat. The suit contends that the labeling is essential for transparency and to allow Americans to support smaller, family owned ranches.
Country Of Origin Labeling – or COOL for short – shouldn’t be controversial. We all know that the United States tightly regulates pesticide use, and other countries do not. This makes our food safer but of course it drives up costs – and food produced in some other countries is cheaper because they don’t follow those safety regulations.
For that reason alone it is unfair to our growers to not label the country of origin. Our growers produce food that is much safer than elsewhere, and they deserve our support for assuring we have safe food to eat. It’s unfair to our growers to not label the country of origin.
While most fruits and vegetables must be labeled, meats don’t need to be. It used to! A few years ago, Canada and Mexico opposed the US requirement to label beef and pork. They threatened a trade war, and went to the World Trade Organization to complain.
This complaint was a mite suspicious. Among the people most harmed by Country of Origin Labels were certain big meat packers. Very often, a cow would be born and raised in Mexico then sold to American producers to be finished off and sold as American beef. Keeping track of that animal’s origins was costly, and the fact that it wasn’t USA born and bred degraded the value of their product.
The World Trade Organization told the US we were discriminating with country of origin labels. Our lawmakers caved to the pressure and our elected officials, in all their wisdom, voted to remove COOL requirements for meat.
This is just wrong. As a consumer, I demand the right to know where my food was grown or processed, and to decide for myself whether or not to buy foreign food. I absolutely do not want food that was grown or processed outside the US. It is my right and yours to know where our food is grown and processed.
Let’s wish those Ranchers well and support their movement to restore Country of origin labeling.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.