After surviving years of drought and watching the size of the U.S. cattle herd fall to its lowest level in more than 60 years, Texas cattleman Bob McCan would just as soon steer clear of the U.S. government’s latest meat-labeling rules.
For many U.S. consumers, it’s a popular idea: Label packages to let them know what country the meat comes from.
But with his herd of roughly 4,000 including cattle from Mexico, McCan said there’s no good reason to segregate the animals when he sells them. All it would do, he said, is create hundreds of millions of dollars of extra handling costs that would get passed on, driving up the price at grocery stores.
“We don’t want beef to become a luxury item,” said McCan, a fifth-generation rancher from Victoria, Texas.
McCan, now the president-elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, is among a group of cattle producers and meat companies that has sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture for moving ahead in late May with new country-of-origin labeling rules.
In a lawsuit filed July 8 in U.S. District Court in Washington, the groups claim the labels will hurt beef exports and are unconstitutional as “compelled speech” that doesn’t advance a government interest.
Backers of the new rules, who say labeling can be done at a minimal cost, are braced for another battle with cattle producers.
“They’re totally wrong – consumers have the right to know where products are from,” said Joel Joseph, chairman of the Los Angeles-based Made in the USA Foundation, a group that promotes labeling and products manufactured in the United States. “It’s not forced speech. It’s just consumer information, the same kind of information that’s on a label of a new car that says where an engine’s from.”
~ from Cattle Producers Want To Get Rid of New Meat Labels by Rob Hotakainen ~
This idea that changed labeling -- of all things -- is too costly is absolutely ridiculous. Food companies do it all the time. There are numerous reasons for this: a new logo, redesigned packaging or to promote -- often untrue -- health claims.
Almost every time a box or package shrinks in size, we are treated to words like "new and improved". The company hopes that we will be dazzled by the increased point size of the words or the snazzy colors employed, so we don't notice we are paying the same price or higher for less of the product!
What food producers don't like is being forced to provide valuable consumer information on their products. When it comes to important information of THAT nature, they trot out all sorts of excuses for why it is not needed or too costly. Hmm. Sure makes a person wonder what they are trying to hide!