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Farmers Union Urges Comment on Beef Labeling Rules

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) is encouraging farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens to comment by Oct. 9 on the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) rule for voluntary meat labeling.

The rule currently requires that cattle must be born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States in order for the beef to carry labels such as “U.S.A. Beef” and “Fresh American Beef.” However, a petition has been filed to allow such labels to be placed on beef from imported cattle if the animals are in the United States for 100 or more days prior to slaughter.

“Farmers Union strongly supports the current definition of U.S. beef coming from cattle born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States,” said RMFU President Dave Carter. “All other definitions of U.S. beef would be misleading to consumers and disingenuous to U.S. producers.” RMFU favors mandatory labeling of food products. The family farm and ranch organization was a strong supporter of a country-of-origin labeling bill that was narrowly defeated in last year’s Colorado Legislative Session.

“Consumers have the right to know where their food is produced,” Carter said. “Most everything else, from inexpensive kids’ toys to clothing, is labeled with its country of origin, yet we deprive our consumers of this courtesy when it comes to food.”

“The last thing we need to do is to convolute the definition of voluntarily labeled beef. U.S. cattle producers have a reputation for high quality beef that is produced under the highest health and environmental standards, and they should be able to capitalize on this by using country-of-origin labeling,” Carter said.

RMFU would like producers and consumers to send letters to FSIS advocating support of the current rule requiring that cattle be born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States in order for the beef to carry labels indicating its origin as from the United States. Written comments can be sent to: FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket #00-036A, Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102 Cotton Annex Building, 300 12th Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700.