Consumer notes: Farm Bureau fights to have U.S.A. food labled

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Most local ranchers and farmers want people to know that they are buying their products that are produced in the USA. A recent move buy the Farm Bureau is asking congress to protect the badge "Made in the USA."

The Farm Bureau has told congress to make country-of-origin labels standard on all retail meat.

"We feel that consumers have a right to know where the food they are buying is produced, in order to distinguish American products from those produced in other counties," said John Rigolizzo, New Jersey Farm Bureau President to the House Agriculture subcommittee. "Consumers have confidence in America's farmers and ranchers. This allows them to buy products produced by their fellow Americans and be assured that the products were produced in America."

Rigolizzo said that surveys show consumers care about the origin of the food they eat. He also believes that current government policy, which allows imported livestock to carry USDA inspection labels when the animals are processed in U.S. packing facilities is misleading and patently unfair to American producers.

"Today a great deal of Foreign beef is graded by USDA and sold at retail to the consumer simply as USDA graded beef," said Rigolizzo. "Foreign beef is frequently advertised as USDA-inspected meat without mention of Whether it is a domestic or imported product."

Despite failed legislative attempts to amend Federal meat inspection Act to require imported product labels, Farm Bureau continues to push the issue.

Rigolizzo explained to law makers that Farm Bureau and other farm livestock groups recently asked Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman to write new regulations to create a program to allow home-grown beef to be labeled "Beef: made in the USA."

"We believe that a process-verified program certified by USDA would be beneficial to our livestock producers," said Rigolizzo. "This program will provide a marketing opportunity for U.S. cattle producers to contribute to the value of retail beef products."

He went on to point out that certified beef must originate from cattle that are processed, raised and fed a minimum of 100 days in the United States.

Rigolizzo believes that the cost associated with the proposed program would be minor and the program would give American producers the opportunity to showcase their products both here and abroad.

"Labeling is simply a matter of informing the American consumer and helping assure consumer confidence in the products they chose to purchase," said Rigolizzo. "Enhancing the market opportunities for domestic meat, meat products and all agricultural commodities by requiring labelling of imports is critical to the agriculture industry."

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