I have a beef (pun intended) once again with our government and WTO. It seems that buried on page 13, Division A of our 2015 budget that was just passed (December 2014) is a little mandate that will require our Secretary of Agriculture to change our 2002 Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) law to comply with the World Trade Organization (WTO) fair trade laws.
The COOL act required U.S. retailers to disclose the country of origin of beef, pork and lamb. Given different countries have different standards for raising and slaughtering animals, it seems fair that we (U.S. citizens) should have the right to know where our meat comes from so that we can choose what we want to buy and what type of meat production we wish to support. Some consumers may not care while others care a lot.
Mexico and Canada were not happy about this law and decided to threaten the U.S. with various product tariffs if changes were not made. They wanted labels to simply read "Product of North America" which meant the product could be from Canada, U.S. or Mexico. This complaint lead to the WTO decision that our COOL rule violates international free trade. So the WTO is saying, we don't want you to know where your meat comes from because you might not choose countries you don't trust or care to support, and that's just not fair.
It's probably no surprise that the mega-giant meat producers in the U.S. such as Cargill and Hormel have been fighting the labeling law that protects consumers and smaller farmer / meat producers under the guise of the law will confuse consumers and cost too much to implement. When in fact, they don't want to have to disclose where their meat products come from.
So, as it is now, in order for the U.S. to comply, we are supposed to abandon the the labeling act by May, 2015.
Who would have expected for this mandate to appear in a Federal Budget? I know the budget is full of "pork" but in most cases we get to know where that pork is coming from and going to.
Read more about this issue in the Star Tribune.
Read author Russ Klettke blog A Guy's Gotta Eat where he keeps us up to date good nutrition and simple meals for a guy on the move.