CHEYENNE, WYO. - US Representatives Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation for stricter use of country of origin labeling. The Country of Origin Labeling Enforcement Act of 2023 would require beef labeled as “made in the USA” to be sourced from animals “exclusively born, raised, slaughtered and packaged in the United States.”
“Beef is a key product of the American West, and enhanced country of origin labeling guidance is vital to protecting small-scale farmers and ranchers that must compete with mega meatpacking conglomerates,” Hageman said. “Clarifying what it means to be ‘made in the USA’ will give consumers greater confidence in what they feed their families, support local farmers and economies, and crack down on deceptive labeling practices by the big four meatpackers.”
Processors would incur a $5,000 fine per pound of beef incorrectly labeled.
Agricultural groups including R-CALF, US Cattlemen’s Association and Farm Action Fund supported the bill.
“We are very pleased that we now have bipartisan bills in both houses that will restore mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef and we and other supporters will strive to include either the Senate or House version in the 2023 Farm Bill,” said Bill Bullard, chief executive officer of R-CALF. “It is clear that support for MCOOL in Congress is growing and this is because consumers overwhelmingly want to know where their beef originates.”
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed a rule similar to the country of origin bill in March. USDA’s rule would require animals be born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States in order for meat, poultry or egg products to bear “made in the USA” label claims.