Senate Agriculture Committee members John Thune (R-S.D.), Jon Tester (D-M.T.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced the American Beef Labeling Act Sept. 8. The act mandates the reinstatement of beef and beef products into the existing Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) law, allowing for a 12-month development and implementation grace period.
Many farm groups, including Family Farm Action Alliance and its political arm, Family Farm Action, have long advocated for country of origin labeling as essential for transparency in the meat industry. Under current law, imported beef products can bear a “Product of U.S.A.” label once finished and repackaged domestically. This leniency has benefited large, multinational meatpacking companies at the expense of independent, U.S.-based farmers and ranchers.
The legislation gives the Biden Administration the authority to act on grave limitations to food labeling while remaining compliant with the World Trade Organization. Expanding MCOOL to include beef would raise the integrity of food labeling by clarifying which beef products are born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. It would also allow consumers to trust that the products they’re purchasing reflect their personal values.
“For our food system to be truly competitive, Congress has to stop big meatpackers’ deception and protect honest producers and consumers,” said Joe Maxwell, president of Family Farm Action Alliance. “Family Farm Action Alliance applauds Senators Thune, Tester, Booker, and Rounds for introducing this bill, which levels the playing field and gives independent farmers and ranchers a fighting chance at a fair market.”