Congressman Dusty Johnson, R-SD, has introduced the Beef Origin Labeling Accountability Act to clarify and reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef products. 

South Dakota’s “lone voice” in Congress explained:

“Consumers don’t know where their beef comes from. It could be South Dakota, Brazil, or Canada,” said Johnson. “U.S. producers raise better beef, and they’re not getting the credit for it. My bill takes a step in the right direction to get accurate labels back on these products to increase consumer confidence in American-made and grown products.”

The Beef Origin Labeling Accountability Act:

  • Directs the United States Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture to work together to determine a process of reinstating Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) for beef compliant with World Trade Organization rules.
  • Requires the two agencies to report to Congress on their progress in determining a trade-compliant means of MCOOL, including any recommendations for legislation that may be necessary and any engagement with international governments on the matter.
  • Directs the USTR to consult with the Canadian and Mexican governments to resolve the outstanding MCOOL trade disputes the two countries have open against the U.S.

Johnson has been a leader on cattle policy during his time in the U.S. House. In 2023, Johnson’s Cattle Contract Library was implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase transparency in the market. Additionally, in 2021, Johnson successfully secured a pilot program to supply grants to small cattle processors to expand competition in the packing industry.

Background on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling:
In 2008, the Farm Bill implemented MCOOL and labeling for beef products from cattle born, raised and harvested in the United States. Canada and Mexico quickly filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization, claiming MCOOL violated WTO agreements. The U.S. lost multiple appeals to WTO rulings against MCOOL, and in December 2015, the WTO authorized more than $1 billion in tariffs against U.S. products from Canada and Mexico.

On December 18, 2015, Congress repealed MCOOL. The WTO cases remain active today, with Canada and Mexico keeping the cases open to put pressure on the U.S. to prevent any attempt at reinstating MCOOL. If the U.S. were to implement a new MCOOL program, Canada and Mexico could immediately retaliate. Johnson’s Beef Origin, Labeling Accountability Act seeks to close these open cases from Canada and Mexico to move forward on reinstating MCOOL. 

Entire bill text here.

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