A new proposal for detailed labelling of meat products in the U.S. is upsetting some in the agriculture industry as well as foreign producers. The plan would see grocery-store packages specify where livestock was born, raised and slaughtered. Currently, meat labelling is required, but not specific. For example, a single package of hamburger might say "U.S, Canada and Mexico."
Proponents of labelling have said consumers want, need and deserve to know the origins of meat products. Critics say it’s too costly and unfairly protectionist against countries such as Canada and Mexico. The World Trade Organization agreed with foreign producers, so the new proposals are supposed to rectify that. The deadline for comments on the issue is coming up on April 11.
The Department of Agriculture is hearing praise from some consumer and U.S. farm groups, but lots of complaints, too. Research shows most consumers aren’t aware origin lables exist on products.
Does product origin affect what you buy? Are you willing to pay more to absorb the extra costs? Is it feasible considering many processing facilities deal with animals from myriad ranches? Why are foreign producers still unsatisfied with the new rules?
Glynn Tonsor, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University; Tonsor has researched consumer demand of country of origin labelling, including under a grant from the U.S.D.A.