The citizens of the United States are fortunate to have available a high-quality, nutritious and abundant food supplies at a very reasonable cost throughout the year. We spend 10.9 percent of our income on food while France spends 14.8 percent and India spends 51.3 percent.
We know our food comes from “all over the world,” and to help the consumer know exactly where their food originates, the Agricultural Marketing Service, issued interim voluntary country-of-origin labeling guidelines for certain commodities Oct. 8, 2002.
Following a series of consumer comment periods regarding the labeling issue, the Agricultural Marketing Service will issue a final rule, which will become mandatory Sept. 30, 2004.
The labeling program does not change the process or standards of animal and food inspection in the U.S. market. The Food Safety Inspection Service and animal health programs will continue to be administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The Mahoning County Farm Bureau supports the implementation of a certification process for a “Grown in the U.S.A.” labeling program. Consumers deserve to be informed where their food comes from and the American agriculture deserves to get credit for the quality food they produce.
Mahoning County consumers can locate fresh, locally grown products by checking out the “Farmer’s Market” at www.mahfb.com.
Thomas R. Koch
(The author is the Mahoning County Farm Bureau president.)