National beef group unveils alternative to mandatory labeling


DENVER – While the government postpones implementation of country-of-origin labeling as directed in the recent farm bill, farm interests continue to spar on the benefits of such labeling.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which opposes mandatory labeling, came out last week with information on its voluntary labeling program.

The association outlined the program’s initial steps during a Dec. 9-10 meeting in Denver.

Start small. The group’s task force wants to cooperate with representatives from the food industry to develop pilot projects for country-of-origin labeling using existing USDA guidelines.

Consumer market research is also needed, the task force said, to identify benefits to producers and consumers.

According to Jim McAdams, association vice president, the pilot programs would be conducted under existing approved USDA programs.

Where’s the money? “The goal all along has been to create a program that puts money into producers’ pockets, not one that subtracts from it,” McAdams said.

“The key is coming up with a program that will create a net benefit to producers – that is, minimize the costs to cattlemen while maximizing the value to consumers,” McAdams said.

“Any country of origin labeling program must put money back into the pockets of U.S. cattle producers.”

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