Food safety-conscious consumers want a “Made in the USA” label they can trust, according to survey research conducted during the past decade. But for beef and pork products, it’s not possible to trust statements about the origin because the Mandatory Country of Origin Law (MCOOL) was repealed by Congress in 2016.

The Billings, MT-based Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, known as R-CALF, has said the loss of MCOOL eliminated any ability for consumers to know the origin of beef bought at the grocery store.

“We are grateful for the ongoing bipartisan support for this important legislation as seen by Senators Hoeven and Luján’s recent cosponsorship of the MCOOL bill,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “Beef should not be excluded from the law that currently requires many other food items to be labeled as to their origin.

“This legislation is vitally important to American consumers and American ranchers. We look forward to its eventual passage by Congress,” Bullard added.

R-CALF, also known as the United Stockgrowerss of America, has been working on Congress to pass a new MCOOL bill, and they’ve recently been “reigniting support” for the bill by enlisting some significant bipartisan sponsors.

Originally passed in the 2002 Farm Bill and amended in the 2008 Farm Bill, current labeling laws require consumers be informed of the country of origin of fresh fruits and raw vegetables, fish, shellfish, lamb, chicken, goat, venison, peanuts, pecans, ginseng, and macadamia nuts.

Widely applauded by cattle producers around the country, the Act directs the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to determine the means of reinstating beef in the current MCOOL law in a manner that complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. If such means are not implemented within 12 months of the legislation’s enactment, the legislation will take effect on the one-year anniversary date.

Reintroduced in January of 2023, the bipartisan bill would reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef. According to R-CALF USA, this would aid in ensuring that American families know where their beef comes from and that American ranchers have fair cattle markets as foreign beef imports continue to rise.

R-CALF USA and its partners in the national MCOOL coalition remain strong in their support of the Act and are hopeful for the reintroduction shortly of its House companion bill.

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