Billings, Mont. – A letter seeking signatures from a wide-range of organizations supporting the recently introduced American Beef Labeling Act of 2021 (S.2716) is now being circulated among organizations representing farm, ranch, rural, faith, environmental, farm/food worker, manufacturing, and cattle/farm industry support businesses. R-CALF USA is among the participating groups circulating the letter in an effort to secure swift passage of S.2716.
Senate Bill 2716 would reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (M-COOL) for beef within 12 months of enactment. The bill was introduced on September 13 and is gaining bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are the bill’s original cosponsors and Senators John Hoeven (R-N.Dak.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.Mex.) joined as cosponsors last week.
“South Dakota cattle producers work tirelessly to produce some of the highest quality beef in the world,” said Thune. “The pandemic has only highlighted their important role in our domestic food supply and the urgent need to strengthen it. To ensure the viability of cattle ranching in this country, the system in which producers operate must be fair and transparent. Unfortunately, the current beef labeling system in this country allows imported beef that is neither born nor raised in the United States, but simply finished here, to be labeled as a product of the USA. This process is unfair to cattle producers and misleading for consumers. As a long-time supporter of M-COOL, I’m proud to see such a strong bipartisan push to ensure consumers know where their beef comes from.”
“Montana ranchers raise the best cattle in the world, and it’s time American families are guaranteed the right to know whether their beef is from Broadus or Brazil,” said Tester. “With health questions being raised about foreign beef, it’s more important than ever that consumers know when they’re buying American beef at the supermarket. This bipartisan legislation will level the playing field for Montana’s family farmers and ranchers and protect the health and safety of American families.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic proved how important it is to have a strong, reliable, local food supply, and consumers deserve to know where their food comes from,” said Luján, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “That is why I am a proud cosponsor of The American Beef Labeling Act, which would support New Mexico farmers and ranchers and allow consumers to know with certainty where their food comes from.”
To demonstrate the widespread support S.2716 enjoys among diverse economic sectors, national groups representing cattle, farm, consumer, labor, and manufacturing penned a supportive M-COOL sign-on letter for other organizations to sign that will be delivered to the U.S. Senate before December. The letter can be read and signed at www.labelourbeef.com.
The sign-on letter itself explains why such a diverse cross-section of the U.S. economy supports M-COOL. It sates S.2716 “would promote a safe and affordable supply of wholesome beef for America’s consumers; a fairer, more competitive market for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers; and quality family-sustaining jobs for meat processing workers.”
The letter further explains that many consumer goods, including many food items, are already subject to mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements and that there is no reason to exclude beef. It also states that “current rules, which allow meatpackers to label as “Product of the USA” beef that is imported and repackaged at a U.S. processing facility, are indefensible.”
The letter concludes: “American consumers deserve the right to choose, American cattle farmers and ranchers deserve the right to compete for the consumers’ favor in their domestic market, and meat processing workers deserve quality jobs.”
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only lobbying and trade association representing U.S. cattle producers. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. Visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516 for more information.
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