What is the definition of US beef??
Currently, US beef is born, raised and harvested in the USA, but that could change.
If you are a rancher it is likely you get your beef packaged in white freezer paper marked with your name and NOT FOR RESALE. It’s your home raised beef that has been slaughtered and processed by the local butcher. Even if it is not your cow (perhaps the neighbors) you know where it came from.
Most people get their meat from the local grocer or the membership stores; say Cost-co or Sam’s. This meat is usually all pretty like on foam plate wrapped with shiny clear plastic and a printed label stuck on front or back. Currently according to the mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for meat it will state where it was born, raised and harvested. Go look in your fridge and freezer and check this out!!
Right now there is a big ruckus because Canada and Mexico brought a complaint against the US to the World Trade Organization (WTO). They believe that because we require mandatory labeling that states where meat comes from that the cattle they export to the United States are discriminated against by the Packing Houses who must then keep track of where the cattle came from. Canada and Mexico believe this is a breach of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the WTO has agreed with them. The US now needs to make changes in the current mandatory COOL regulations or could face some retaliation such as tariffs on items we export to Mexico and Canada. Such retaliation would have to be approved by the WTO and such moves are usually a last resort. WTO is big on negotiations and everyone just getting along.
So Congress has two options in front of them to decide between. One is the Robertson Amendment which would completely repeal COOL on beef and Pork and the other is the Hoeven/Stabenow Amendment which would make it voluntary but maintain the definition of Product of USA as born, raised and harvested in the US.
Under the Robertson Amendment the labeling requirement and the definition of what is US beef & pork would be removed. If COOL for beef and pork is totally repealed the Packers would then be able to apply to the USDA for a “verified process label” and define US beef as what is convenient for them. Beef undergoing a “significant transformation” such as slaughter or seasoning could be considered US BEEF, even if it was born and raised in another country. The other option is Packers simply would not label meat with the country of origin. Consumers would no longer be able to have information of where their beef came from.
The Hoeven/Stabenow bill keeps the definition of US Beef being born, raised and slaughtered in the US. It would be voluntary so meat may not be labeled with country of origin, but if Packers/Grocers did label the meat as a product of the US it would have to comply with the born, raised and slaughter in US definition.
If you support the definition of US beef as being born raised and slaughtered here in the US, please take action and call Sen. Tester’s (406) 452-9585 and Sen. Daines’s office 406-453-0148 and ask them to maintain the integrity of the Product of the USA definition; support the Hoeven/Stabenow amendment on Country of Origin Labeling.