Senator Thomas fights for Beef Labeling
by Office of U.S. Senator Craig Thomas
January 26, 2007
(Washington D.C.) - U.S. Senator Craig Thomas introduced legislation today that would expedite the implementation of country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef and other products by saying, “It is important to provide consumers with more product information, better choices, and a better chance to support American agriculture.”
“This bill is certainly of great importance to Wyoming livestock producers and consumers who have the right to know where their food comes from,” Thomas said.
“When Montanans and Americans are shopping in their local grocery store for their hamburgers and steaks for dinner, they should be able to look for the ‘U.S.A.’ label – it’s a no-brainer,” U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, from Montana, said. “Implementing COOL is long overdue and I’m proud to work together with Senator Thomas on this common-sense legislation.”
“The sooner, the better,” said U.S. Senator Mike Enzi from Wyoming. “This is a new Congress and there are new faces on Capitol Hill. I’m hopeful they will join us in moving this legislation forward. It’s an issue that has support on both sides of the aisle and from ranch families all across the country, but we must overcome opposition from the big packer conglomerates,” Enzi said.
“Global trade is not going away, and with more trade, comes an increase in the importance of country of origin labeling,” Thomas said. “Many nations already label food and other products – including the United States, and like I’ve said before, if it is good enough for T-shirts, it is good enough for T-bones.”
Thomas, (R-Wyo.) said producers and consumers of seafood are already enjoying the benefits of labeling and further delays for beef and other products are not warranted. Most U.S. trade partners, including the European Union, require country of origin labeling for food. Virtually every other item a consumer buys in the U.S. indicates a country of origin.
S. 404, the “Country of Origin Labeling Act of 2007,” sets the implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling to begin on September 30, 2007.
The original COOL legislation became law as part of the 2002 Farm bill. That law mandates that beef, lamb, pork, fish, fruits and vegetables be labeled with their country of origin by U.S. retailers. Opponents of the law have delayed the implementation purely through the use of appropriation riders.
“Producers and consumers have waited long enough for country of origin labeling,” Thomas said. “It is high time we make it happen.”
Thomas’s bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).