A healthy competitive marketplace demands that customers have an opportunity to make informed choices regarding the products they purchase. In the meat and fresh produce marketplace today, the information needed to make an informed choice is seriously lacking.
While baseball caps, t-shirts, and sports clothes today carry labels listing the country in which they were manufactured, the origin of meat and fresh produce remains largely a mystery.
As news stories arise regarding health and safety issues of food produced in other countries, American consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the origin of the products on their dinner table. Some of this concern is well founded. According to the federal Government Accounting Office, less than two percent of the food products imported into the United States are inspected each year.
Without the ability to make an informed choice, many consumers may simply choose not to purchase those food products. Colorado ranchers and farmers are harmed in the process.
Several states have moved forward in recent years to pass laws requiring country-of-origin labeling on meat and/or produce. Ironically, Colorado has had a country-of-origin law on the statute books for two decades. Because of flaws in that statute, however, it has been largely unenforceable. The Country of Origin Notification Act, HB 1098, will address those flaws.
House Bill 1098 is currently in the House Appropriations Committee. Read on to learn what the bill does and if you agree, get the word out to the members of the committee (listed below).
• The legislation would require all meat, produce and honey sold in Colorado grocery stores to contain a notice at the point of sale regarding the country of origin. Such notice may be posted in an appropriate spot on the display case or grocery shelf, rather than on the individual package.
• The country of origin notice shall be in at least 24-point type, and in a position as to make sure that it applies to a specific item.
• An amendment being prepared for the bill specifies that enforcement shall be conducted through the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Officials from the CDA already regularly visit every retail outlet to check the accuracy of the stores’ scales.
Contact the legislators listed below and encourage them to support country-of-origin notification.
Brad Young, Dist. 63
Gayle Berry, Dist. 55
Don Lee, Dist. 28
Alice Madden, Dist. 14
Joyce Lawrence, Dist. 45
Joe Nunez, Dist. 64
Mark Paschall, Dist. 29
Tom Plant, Dist. 13
Todd Saliman, Dist. 11
Glenn Scott, Dist. 62
Joe Stengel, Dist. 38
Abel Tapia, Dist. 46
Val Vigil, Dist. 32
If you would like more comprehensive information, contact our office at 303-752-5800. As well, if you are a friend of Farmers Union, ask about our new membership category. ‘Friends of Farmers Union’ is a way for the consumer to support local agriculture for a safe, healthy food supply.