Talks under way to speed meat labels, animal ID

US - Linking the two programs seen likely to win over detractors
calendar icon 18 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
It's been five years since Congress passed a law requiring meat to be marked with the country of origin, but shoppers will have a hard time finding those labels.

The food industry has succeeded in repeatedly delaying the labeling requirement. It's currently put off until the fall of 2008.

But an end to that delay could be in the works. The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson, wants to marry the labeling program to a plan to require livestock producers to participate in a national animal identification system.

Tying the two programs together could win support for both from the packers, producers and other groups that dislike one of the programs but like the other. At least that's what Peterson is betting on.

"Bottom line is that country-of-origin labeling is the law. It's been delayed. It will not be delayed anymore. We are going to figure out how to implement it," says the Minnesota Democrat, who has been meeting recently with representatives of key interest groups.

Meatpackers and others who oppose the labeling law have good reason to sit down with Peterson. Republican leaders once could be counted on to keep putting off the requirement. But Democrats are now in charge of Congress, and there could be a Democrat in the White House after 2008.

Packers also would get a chance to alter the labeling law and get something they want and many farmers oppose - a mandatory ID system.

Source: DesMoines
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